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MIDVALE — Unified police believe it is the biggest methamphetamine bust in the state's history.
After receiving a tip from the Department of Homeland Security, detectives pulled over a Nissan Altima on I-15 near 8500 South Tuesday and discovered 68 pounds of methamphetamine in a suitcase in the trunk, with an estimated street value of at least $2 million, said Unified Police Lt. Lex Bell.
Blake Arcand, 56, of British Columbia, Canada, was arrested and charged Wednesday in U.S. District Court with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
If convicted, Arcand's minimum mandatory sentence would be 10 years in federal prison, said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, adding that it could also be longer.
When he was pulled over, Arcand told police that he had flown from Canada to Los Angeles, rented a vehicle and was driving to North Dakota to meet his wife, according to his charges.
Charges say a Unified police officer was able to pull over Arcand after seeing him "following a truck pulling a trailer too closely as traffic became congested."
"Arcand appeared to be extremely nervous as he answered (the officer's) questions," charging documents say.
A Unified police K-9 officer pulled up to the scene, at which point Arcand told the initial responding officer that "he was glad the Nissan Altima was not his," according to court documents.
A police K-9 was used to find the drugs in his car. Detectives also found several new backpacks and a notepad with several Wyoming and Montana cities written on it, according to Bell.
"Investigators believe Mr. Arcand was going to deliver part of his load of methamphetamine to each of these cities, using the backpacks to hand off the drugs," he said.
In 2005, Arcand was "involved" in trafficking cocaine and marijuana from the United States to Canada, a Salt Lake County Jail report states. There is also currently an open investigation on him in Washington, according to police.
To Bell's knowledge, Tuesday's meth bust was the largest in Utah history. Other large busts in the state include:
- On May 20, 2012, 56 pounds of methamphetamine was seized from a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. One man was arrested and later convicted in federal court.
- In 2013, 40 pounds of meth was intercepted by authorities during a suspected handoff in a parking lot at 1300 South and 300 West. Three men were arrested.
- On Aug. 7, 2012, 22 pounds of meth linked to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel was seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency. One man was charged federally.
- In February 2007, 24 pounds of meth was seized in a traffic stop on I-70 near Salina. Two men were arrested.
Contributing: Ben Lockhart