ST. GEORGE — An alleged lane-change violation led to the discovery of 30 pounds of suspected methamphetamine during a search of a rental vehicle on southbound Interstate 15, authorities say.

Shortly before 1 a.m. on Feb. 10, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper initiated a traffic stop on a southbound vehicle on I-15 that had its turn signal on for a significant distance without ever changing lanes, according to charging documents filed with the court.

The driver of the vehicle pulled over just north of the Brigham Road Exit, and upon speaking to the trooper reportedly said she had no driver’s license or any other form of identification on her. The vehicle was determined to be a rental.

The passenger, 52-year-old Larry Steven Horton, of San Bernardino, California, also told the officer he had no identification, nor did he know where the rental car agreement or other documents were located, the report states. 

Suspecting there may be further criminal activity afoot, the officer called for another unit to assist. During a cursory pat-down of Horton, officers reportedly found a pipe typically used to smoke meth, which prompted a search of the vehicle. 

While searching the passenger compartment, officers say they found a duffel bag that contained 30 pounds of suspected meth wrapped in 1-pound packages consistent with “illegal distribution,” the officer noted. Broken down into street-level sales, the meth is valued at more than $780,000.

They also recovered several other items, including paraphernalia and a digital scale.

UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden told St. George News on Wednesday that the female driver was transported to St. George Regional Hospital for a medical condition, and with the ongoing investigation, no further details are being released at this time, including her name.

Horton was subsequently arrested and booked into Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on a second-degree felony count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He also faces misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia charges. 

Due to the likelihood of Horton fleeing the jurisdiction if released on bail, the trooper asked that he be held without bail, and the request was approved. Two days after his arrest, Horton made an initial appearance in 5th District Court in St. George. He then made a second appearance before the judge on a bail reduction hearing held Tuesday.

During the hearing, the no-bail hold was ordered to continue and Horton remains in custody in Washington County at this time.  

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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