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I-5 traffic stop uncovers three pounds of hidden marijuana

A Jackson County Sheriff's deputy stopped a speeding car on Interstate 5 south of Ashland this week and found three pounds of marijuana hidden inside the engine compartment.

The deputy was driving south just south of Ashland when his radar picked up a black, 2013 Toyota Avalon traveling northbound at 82 mph in a 65 mph zone. The deputy turned around, caught up and stopped the speeding car, which he noted had a strong odor of marijuana coming from it, a news release said today.

The three people inside told the deputy they were driving from Fresno, Calif., to Newport. He asked them whether they had medical marijuana cards, but everyone said they did not. Upon further questioning, the driver provided a small baggy of marijuana from his pocket and a small envelope of marijuana from the front console area, the news release said.

The deputy got permission to search the car. When officers popped the hood, they saw what looked like paper sticking out of an area where it didn't belong, the news release said. Further investigation revealed the paper was actually garbage bags that contained a total of three pounds of marijuana.

The driver, Samuel Merrill, 25, of Northeast Harbor, Maine, was arrested and charged with manufacture and possession of marijuana. He was lodged at the Jackson County Jail, but has since bailed out, officials said.

Investigators determined one of the passengers, Kyle Golden, 29, of Newport, was wanted on a felony warrant out of Coos County. He was arrested and remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail, the sheriff's department reported.

The other passenger was released.