Police here say a traffic violation led them to a laundry detergent box full of methamphetamine and the arrests of three men.

The men, who told officers they were driving to Salt Lake City, were arrested early Thursday after officers allegedly discovered 13.7 pounds of the drug in the sports car they were in. The street value of the drug was estimated at $616,000.Rodrigo Silva, 21, and Jorge Sanchez, 24, both of Salt Lake City, and Regulo Reynozo, 24, of El Monte, Calif., were charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and failure to possess a drug tax stamp.

Additionally, Reynozo, who police say was driving, faces a traffic citation. The three are being held in the Washington County Jail on $200,000 bail each.

The three men were driving north on I-15 just after midnight Thursday when St. George officer Roger Larson spotted their 1986 red Nissan 200 SZ.

The car's tail lights were not on, said Capt. Russell Peck, commander of the Washington County Drug Task Force.

After Larson turned on his flashing lights, the car continued for three miles, Peck said.

When Larson saw only one clothes bag and three men, as well as missing screws from the car's interior, he suspected the men might have drugs, Peck said.

After getting permission to search the sports car, Larson called task force officers Detective Richard Farnsworth and Cpl. Dan Endter.

They found a 14-pound detergent box on the floor behind the driver's seat and it appeared to be unopened, Peck said. The bottom, however, looked as if it had been hot-glued, Peck said.

Endter found 11 small bricks of methamphetamine inside with the laundry detergent, Peck said.

Silva, Sanchez and Reynozo made their first appearance in 5th District Court Thursday afternoon, and attorney Tom Blakely was assigned to represent them. There was no bail hearing set for the three, Blakely said.

He said he expected two of the men to be assigned other attorneys.