Handwritten license plate, tinted windows lead to Iron County drug bust

Sep 3, 2021, 8:08 AM | Updated: 12:28 pm
handwritten license plate on blue nissan altima...
Photo: Utah Highway Patrol

IRON COUNTY, Utah — One person is in jail without bail after a handwritten license plate and other problems with a car on I-15 led to the discovery of a large amount of possible methamphetamine. 

Handwritten license plate raises red flag

In a probable cause affidavit filed in support of the arrest, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper said he first spotted the car, with its handwritten license plate, headed northbound on I-15 on Saturday, Aug. 28. In addition to the homemade tag, Trooper Scott Mackelprang wrote that he noticed illegally dark tinting on the windows, including over the third brake light in the rear window. Additionally, he said the driver followed a semi with a distance of under two seconds. 

After pulling over the vehicle, Mackelprang said he noticed possible signs of drug use.

“I noted that his eyes were glassy, bloodshot, and red,” Mackelprang wrote. “He had facial tremors and was sweating.” 

A preliminary search of the vehicle uncovered two small packages of a white substance believed to be methamphetamine.  

Accusations of acting as a drug mule

In addition to the invalid license plate, UHP said the driver’s California license was either suspended or revoked. The car did not have a valid registration. A further search of the vehicle uncovered 3 more large bundles of suspected methamphetamine. In all, it added up to more than 7 pounds.

The trooper arrested the driver, identified as 41-year-old Francisco Velasquez, into custody, and impounded the car.

In the probable cause statement, Mackelprang said Velasquez admitted to using meth, and receiving $2,000 to haul the drugs, which tested positive for meth, into the US from Mexico. 

Velasquez made an initial court appearance on Tuesday where the judge ordered him to remain in jail without bail. He faces charges of felony drug distribution along with several misdemeanor drug charges. 


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Handwritten license plate, tinted windows lead to Iron County drug bust