ST. GEORGE — Two suspects are in jail in Beaver County following a traffic stop on northbound Interstate 15 where dark window tint and conflicting stories led to the recovery of thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, authorities say.

File photo of the Beaver County Public Safety Building where the jail is located in Beaver City, Utah, Oct. 19, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Kali Holyoak, St. George News

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped a vehicle on northbound 1-15 near mile marker 122 in Beaver County shortly after 6 a.m. Tuesday for alleged window tint and license plate violations. 

During the stop, the troopers spoke to the driver, Aubrey C. Gray, 24, and passenger  Nehemiah M. Washington, 23, both residents of California, according to charging documents filed in support of the arrests.  

During the encounter, the trooper reportedly smelled burnt marijuana. 

While writing the citation, the trooper asked the driver where the pair was headed,. Gray said they were visiting family in Utah but could not say where the relatives lived, only that their home was close to the Salt Lake City area. 

Gray said they had left their home in California the previous day and spent a couple of hours in Las Vegas, Nevada, before heading north. When the trooper inquired further, Gray said they were visiting his cousin, which he said was the passenger’s brother, but said he didn’t know the man’s name. He also told troopers they had planned to stay in Utah for three or four days. 

According to the report, when asked how the two met, the driver said the passenger was also his cousin, and when asked about the alleged marijuana smell in the car, the suspect said the last time he had smoked marijuana was the previous evening. 

Gray told troopers they could search the car that there was a handgun in the trunk of the vehicle. 

Meanwhile, another trooper spoke to the passenger who reportedly said the pair were in Utah to visit his brother in Taylorsville and said the driver was his friend.

Stock image for illustrative purposes only shows of a bag containing fentanyl pills | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, St. George News

During the search, the report states, troopers found the firearm in the trunk, along with two loaded clips that were recovered from inside the car. As the search of the trunk continued, troopers found two large packages wrapped in plastic behind the carpeting and inside were thousands of suspected fentanyl pills.

The packages were seized and both men were taken into custody and transported to the Beaver County Jail facing second-degree felony possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

The driver also faces one third-degree felony count of possession of a dangerous weapon and two misdemeanors that include one count each of possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, along with the window tint violation. A background check on Gray indicated a prior weapons offense. 

The  State Bureau of Investigations was contacted and agents responded to the UHP office in Beaver City to assist in the investigation. The packages were weighed and had a combined weight of approximately 4 pounds — which calculated by weight equals approximately 18,000 pills. 

Investigators requested both suspects be held without bail based on the fact that neither suspect had any ties to the area, in addition to the amount of illicit substances that were reportedly found in the same vehicle where a handgun and loaded clips were also found. Following the arrest, both suspects remain in custody on a no-bail hold.  

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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