Season’s ‘weed’ing: Nevada City woman arrested with presents full of pot
Tribune News Service
NEVADA CITY, Calif. – A Nevada City woman spent Christmas in jail in Missouri after being stopped with a bundle of gifts in her car – boxes allegedly packed full of pot.
Brooke Molina, 28, was driving a rented Ford Escape with Nevada plates near Joplin, Mo., when she was stopped early Tuesday morning by a Missouri Highway Patrol officer, allegedly for speeding.
During the traffic stop, the state trooper smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the minivan.
“She said she had a joint in the ashtray that she had smoked before leaving California,” said Nevada County sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Smethers. “That gave him probable cause to search the vehicle.”
Troopers allegedly found numerous wrapped Christmas presents in the cargo area containing 20 one-pound bags of processed marijuana.
Molina and her passenger, Brianna N. Berban, 22, of Santa Maria, were charged in Jasper County Circuit Court later Tuesday with felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
But Molina’s troubles didn’t stay in Missouri.
Missouri State Highway Patrol contacted the Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force with information pertaining to their investigation and a home address for Molina in the 13000 block of Borrelli Road.
Armed with a search warrant, the local narcotics task force members went to Molina’s residence and allegedly found an indoor marijuana garden with 20 plants, about 40 pounds of processed marijuana in one-pound bags packaged for sale, 18 Rubbermaid totes containing marijuana bud on the stem, and marijuana shake – bits of leaves left over from trimming the buds.
The totes contained another 30 to 40 pounds of marijuana on the stem that hadn’t yet been trimmed, Smethers added.
Deputies also found evidence of both indoor and outdoor marijuana cultivation, he said.
“The inside of the garage was split into four separate rooms. They had built new walls,” Smethers said. One area had starter plants, and two other areas had more mature plants; investigators also found evidence of an old outdoor garden.
And, Smethers said, they found Christmas wrapping paper that matched the boxes found in Molina’s car in Missouri.
The task force frequently gets reports from out of state involving local residents allegedly transporting marijuana, Smethers said.
“We get contacted from everywhere – New York, Florida, Texas, Arizona,” Smethers said. “They’re intercepting cars coming from Nevada County or coming back to Nevada County, carrying large quantities of processed marijuana or currency.”
Molina may face charges of illegal cultivation of marijuana and possession for sale in Nevada County, Smethers said.
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