Two Gambia, West Africa nationals were arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, according to court documents and a press release from the Quay County Sheriff’s Office.
The men were stopped on Interstate 40 for following another vehicle too closely by Tucumcari Police Officer Chris Valdez and Sgt. Mark Dahlsten of the Quay County Sheriff’s Office who were on patrol together, according to the release.
During the process of issuing a warning citation, Dahlsten stated that he noticed several indications of criminal activity beyond the citation, according to court records.
The officers requested consent to search the car and Tucumcari Police Officer Dennis Garcia and police dog, Bond, were called to the scene, where Bond “alerted” to the vehicle, the release said.
After obtaining a search warrant, $118,902 in cash and a handgun were found, court documents show.
The bundles of money had the odor of marijuana and when the money was opened it had a “strong and overwhelming odor of raw cannabis,” the court documents said.
Arrested were Lamin Cham, 40, and Lamin Samurah, 31, according to the press release.
“Neither man claimed the money and both signed disclaimers stating the money was not theirs,” according to the press release.
Both men were booked Monday into the Quay County Detention Center and held on $20,000 cash bond.
On Tuesday, Cham and Samurah each pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in Quay County Magistrate Court and were assigned a court appointed attorney.
Each is charged with a fourth degree felony for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. If convicted of the felony, the maximum fine is $5,000 and up to 18 months in jail.
In April, a Tucumcari police officer stopped a male driver on Interstate 40 and later discovered almost $206,000, which the man abandoned. Tucumcari police are taking legal action to have the court award them the money.
The Quay County Sheriff’s Office and the Tucumcari Police Department are participating in a weeklong, nationwide drug enforcement effort that is focused on interdicting felons who are trafficking drugs, guns and money across interstate highways and secondary highways, according to the release.
Region V Task Force is providing overtime funding to participating agencies.