Nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana were found on Friday in the bed of a pickup truck traveling on I90 near Rapid City. The officer stopped the truck for going 5 mph over the speed limit. The tropper walked his dog around the truck, who then indicated there were drugs on board. The tropper found 980 pounds of marijuana in addition to $1,670 and a white powder substance found in a pill bottle. According to the police the approximate street value of the marijuana is about $3.9 million. The driver of the truck is being held on a $1 million cash bond.
A state trooper seized 980 pounds of marijuana on Friday making what is believed to be the biggest pot bust from a traffic stop in the state's history.
With the help of a service dog, drugs with an estimated street value of $3.9 million were found in the bed of a pickup a 40-year-old man was driving on Interstate 90 about 11 miles east of Rapid City.
"As far as we know, this is the largest marijuana seizure from a traffic stop," Capt. Kevin Karley, head of the Rapid City division of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, said Monday.
Friday's seizure surpasses what Karley considers a typical big marijuana bust by about 480 pounds. In 2011, Karley's district, which is most of the West River, seized 1,533 pounds of marijuana.
Donald McCormick, who is from Ipswich, Mass., faces two felony drug charges - possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, according to court documents. He also is accused of possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, according to court documents.
As of Monday evening, McCormick was in custody at the Pennington County Jail being held on a $1 million cash bond.
On Friday afternoon, the trooper logged McCormick's truck traveling 70 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone in the eastbound lane of I90 near mile marker 71, according to court documents.
When the trooper walked his service dog around the pickup, the dog indicated the presence of illegal drugs in the vehicle. The trooper found numerous bales of marijuana under a large wooden shelf in the bed of the truck that was covered by a topper, court documents stated.
McCormick was taken into custody and the highway patrol seized the pickup, $1,670 in cash and a white powdery substance the trooper found inside a silver pill container that is being tested, according to court documents.
The marijuana will remain in the Rapid City evidence building until the case is closed. After that, it will be incinerated, Karley said.
Karley would not say if the traffic stop was the result of a tip but added that tips are rare and most drugs that troopers find come as the result of routine traffic stops.
"Very seldom do we have tips in advance in seizures," he said.
The trooper detailed the traffic stop in the probable cause affidavit filed with the Seventh Circuit Court:
He reported several religious and patriotic decals like "Support Our Troops" magnets and a "Jesus is The Answer" bumper sticker on the 2006 Chevrolet 2500HD pickup. A mountain bike was secured to the back of the truck's camper shell.
Once pulled over, McCormick told the trooper he was checking out Sturgis while on his way to Wisconsin from Vale, Colo. A Bible lay on the front passenger seat and a church ID badge hung from the rear view mirror.
Dressed in a long-sleeved dress shirt, McCormick appeared nervous, his hands trembling and his breath labored, police said.
The court document stated that the trooper found McCormick's story of travel confusing and his casual conversation unusual with the driver saying he found God and that the trooper was "really good guy and appreciated the way I treated him."
When the trooper walked his service dog around the pickup, the dog indicated the presence of illegal drugs in the vehicle. The trooper searched the truck and found spare decals, air fresheners and a rubber-banded bundle of cash adding up to about $1,000.
The trooper searched the bed of the truck covered by a topper and found numerous bales of marijuana under a large wooden shelf, court documents stated.