Four California men arrested Thursday with 89 pounds of marijuana hidden inside two box spring mattresses are facing up to 30 years in prison for drug distribution and possession.
Bond was set Friday at $150,000 for Thai Yang, the driver of an SUV with a U-Haul trailer that was pulled over for speeding on Interstate 90 east of Rapid City by a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper.
While questioning Yang, the trooper learned that the Sacramento man was driving a vehicle and pulling a rented U-Haul trailer that had been rented on Nov. 11 in Merced by Pheng Vang and was due back Nov. 25.
After receiving Yang’s consent to search the U-Haul, a drug-detection dog indicated it detected the smell of marijuana. A search of the U-Haul revealed junk items from Goodwill and two box spring mattresses with false compartments stuffed with marijuana.
During the search, the trooper saw a second vehicle with Arizona license plates drive past the scene of the arrest in a manner that aroused his suspicion. A second trooper pursued and stopped the vehicle carrying three men from Merced.
The men in the other vehicle were arrested in connection with the pot bust. Bond was set at $500,000 for Pao Chous Vang, 34, and $150,000 each for Chue Vang, 55, and Seng Vang, 26.
It was later learned that Pao Chous Vang was arrested last month in Texas carrying 172 pounds of marijuana. He had been released on bond when he was arrested in South Dakota.
According to court documents, the marijuana was headed for distribution in St. Paul, Minn.
It was the second large pot bust of the week in Pennington County. On Monday, a Colorado man was charged with having 99 pounds of marijuana in a car reportedly bound for Colorado.