WINNEMUCCA — A man pulled over for speeding Wednesday morning might have driven away with a simple traffic ticket – or even a warning – if not for the pound of uncut crystal methamphetamine allegedly concealed in a hidden compartment in the trunk of his car.
Deputy Louie Landa, of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, stopped the vehicle early in the morning two miles north of Winnemucca on US 95. Landa said his experience and training in drug interdiction caused him to be suspicious of the two men in the car — though he declined to elaborate due to the ongoing investigation.
The deputy asked for permission to search the car, and the driver allegedly consented. With assistance from Sgt. Lee Dove, the car was searched and a false compartment was discovered between the back seat and trunk. Dove and Landa put a flashlight with a bendable head on one side of the false compartment to light it up, then put a mirror through the opening on the other side of the compartment. With this method they were able to see a large bag with a large amount of something in it — and next to it was a handgun.
The two deputies pulled back the sheet metal, which had been held in place with screws, in order to obtain the bag and gun. The deputies field-tested the substance in the bag, which allegedly flashed positive for methamphetamine.
Assisting with the investigation were detectives from the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Team, who put the street value of the meth at $100,000 – $120,000. The drugs were apparently being transported from California to Idaho. Deputies continue to investigate the handgun, which does not appear to have been reported as stolen.
Arrested were Juan Erik Cuevas, 28, who was charged with drug trafficking level III, illegal possession of a firearm by a non-citizen, and possession of false identification. He is being held at the Humboldt County Detention Center on $275,000,
Jose Castaneda-Garcia, 24, was also arrested and charged with drug trafficking level III and illegal possession of a firearm by a non-citizen. He is being held on $270,000 bail.
The case remains under investigation.