Fifth District Judge Philip Eves has set a Sept. 13 trial date for two of three people arrested on I-15 in a van investigators said contained $1 million worth of marijuana.
Juan Suarez, 25, Joliet, Ill., and his 22-year-old wife, Elizabeth, were arrested April 21 with David Villa Armenta, 31, San Diego, Calif. The Suarezes were charged with two third-degree felony counts of unlawful possession of drugs and possessing more than 16 ounces of marijuana. Armenta was charged with three third-degree felony counts of driving under the influence, unlawful possession of drugs and possessing more than 16 ounces of marijuana.The judge has yet to schedule a trial for Armenta. The Suarezes remain in custody in the Iron County Jail. Armenta was released on $10,000 bail, court officials said.
Last month, Eves ruled a Utah Highway Patrol trooper had "no probable cause" to stop the van near Cedar City. But the judge said the 448 pounds of marijuana could be used as evidence because the defendants "voluntarily consented to a search of the vehicle."
During the July 20 hearing on a defense motion to suppress the drug evidence, the trooper testified he stopped the van on I-15 in southwestern Utah because the driver appeared to be intoxicated.
But, when he determined the man was ill and not driving under the influence, no ticket was issued.
The patrolman said he was given permission to search the vehicle and found the marijuana in 448 one-pound packages hidden behind plywood paneling.
State Social Services officials took temporary custody of two Suarez children - a 3-year-old boy and a 9-month-old girl. In June, the children were turned over to their grandmother in Mexico.