Utah traffic stop puts halt to international drug ring

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A February traffic stop in northern Utah turned up 44 pounds of cocaine, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Now we're learning the two men arrested are believed to be part of a huge drug smuggling ring that crossed the Canadian border.

Ross Legge and Leonard Ferris were stopped near Brigham City in late February by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper.

"The trooper noticed in the back of the vehicle, which was covered, three containers. He obtained the keys to one of those containers and opened it up. And in one of those containers was 20 kilos of cocaine," said UHP Colo. Daniel Fuhr.

Utah traffic stop puts halt to international drug ring

Drug enforcement agents working out of Salt Lake did some checking and found the cocaine was bound for eastern Washington, where it would be loaded in a helicopter, flown to a remote town on the Canadian border and exchanged for marijuana and other drugs.

"It's truly a poly-drug sell: You have marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy; they're going the full gammet, and it's all high-profit narcotics," said Frank Smith, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Salt Lake City.

Nine arrests have been made so far in the drug ring in Washington, Idaho and Canada. In all, over 600 pounds of marijuana was seized, 80 kilos of cocaine, 200,000 ecstasy pills, six guns and two helicopters. All together, it totals over $6 million.

If it wasn't for the UHP trooper making that first stop and arresting Legge and Ferris, all those drugs would still be on the street. "In investigations like this, you gotta have a break, and the troopers provided the break. And because they provided the break, we were able to capitalize on that," Smith said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been investigating this drug smuggling group for four years. It's based in Canada.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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