Two women were arrested and thousands of dollars were seized early Wednesday morning after officers made a routine traffic stop.
Around 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday, a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputy saw a white Mazda sedan make several illegal lane changes and initiated a traffic stop.
When speaking to the driver, Shanice Hempstead, the deputy noticed a strong odor, akin to that of burnt marijuana. Hempstead, who was driving on a suspended license, presented a physician’s statement of recommendation for medical marijuana from California, but told the deputy there was no marijuana in the car.
When Hempstead and the passenger, Tiffany Cleveland, gave conflicting reports to the deputy of where they were heading, the deputy became suspicious.
A search of the vehicle yielded several pipes with residue similar to that of methamphetamine, a purse containing $47,670 that had been shrink-wrapped and $460 in counterfeit $20 bills. More marijuana was also found.
Hempstead admitted that she was transporting drug money from Las Vegas to southern Arizona. Cleveland denied knowing about the money.
“Not only do we see massive amount of drugs moving north through our county, a steady flow of cash continues heading south back into the hands of the suppliers,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said in a press release. “These women will be held accountable for their part in keeping the drug trade going through our county.”
Hempstead was charged with money laundering, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license.
Cleveland was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
More charges are pending.