SPARKS, Nev. (AP) - Authorities recovered more than 100 pounds of marijuana with a street value of nearly $500,000 from the SUV that was carrying four suspected drug traffickers from Florida before one fled a traffic stop on Interstate 80 in Nevada, stole a state trooper's cruiser and ultimately shot himself to death.
A total of 109 pounds of pot was found wrapped in packages in the back of the 2013 Ford Explorer that a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper first pulled over five miles east of Reno at 3:55 p.m. Monday, NHP spokesman Chuck Allen said Thursday. He estimated the value at $495,000, based on a sale price of $10 per gram.
Devin Peterson, a 22-year-old felon from Jacksonville on probation for carrying a concealed weapon, managed to steal a trooper's cruiser and use his shotgun to carjack another vehicle during a chase on I-80. The chase ended with Peterson shooting himself in the chest with the officer's weapon near Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno.
The other three suspects, all from Jacksonville, are being held on a series of drug charges in the Washoe County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail each.
Christian Magliano, 23, Manuel Rodriguez, 29, and Mollie Bass, 29, made an initial appearance before a Sparks Justice Court judge via a video hookup Thursday, but the proceeding was continued into next week because the district attorney's office has not yet filed the criminal complaint.
The three earlier were booked on suspicion of selling a controlled substance, possessing a controlled substance for sale and conspiracy to violate a uniform controlled substance act. A fourth count, trafficking marijuana, was added Thursday.
The judge gave prosecutors until 3:30 p.m. Monday to file the formal complaint.
Peterson apparently managed to figure out how to activate a switch on the electronic lock where the trooper's weapon was being held, but details remain sketchy about the exact chain of events.
All four of the occupants were outside of the SUV under the watch of one trooper while another trooper searched the vehicle- a rental from Florida, Allen said. He said the trooper had just pulled one of several packages of a "substantial amount" of marijuana from the vehicle and was turning to arrest the four when Peterson took off.
"The young kid decided to make a run for it, and he did and he was able to get away before we could get bracelets on them," Allen said.
Two state troopers have been placed on paid administrative leave as a routine procedure when officers are involved in shootings. At least one fired shots at the tires of the cruiser as Peterson fled.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)