Two traffic stops and a consensual encounter by troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) has led to the seizure of 51.1 lbs of marijuana and six ounces of methamphetamine.
On Sunday, January 10, 2011, around 11am, a trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol Troop C Headquarters-Grand Island, stopped a rented 2010 Ford Explorer for failure to signal on eastbound I-80 near mm 348 west of York. The trooper detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, and a probable cause search led to the discovery of five duffle bags containing 39.4 lbs. of marijuana on the rear seat and in the rear cargo area. The driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, Erich Christoph Merkner, (DOB 12/2/84) of Valparaiso, Indiana, was lodged in the York County Jail on a charge of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver.
Around 10:40 pm, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 a trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol Troop C Headquarters-Grand Island, had a consensual encounter with the driver’s of two vehicles parked between two storage units near South Railroad & Avenue F, in Kearney. An NSP canine alerted to the odor drugs coming from one of the vehicles, a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup. A search of the vehicle led to the seizure of 6.1 ounces of methamphetamine. The meth was located under the dash of the pickup.
The owner of the pickup, Victor Zunigo-Valencia, (DOB 5/28/76), Kearney, and the owner of the driver of the other vehicle, a 1995 Nissan Maxima, Terry Howard, (DOB 10/5/78), Kearney, were both lodged in the Buffalo County Jail, each on a charge of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver.
On Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, a trooper with NSP Headquarters Troop-Lincoln, stopped a 2009 Cadillac STS, for Following too Close on eastbound Interstate-80 near mm 398. The trooper smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. A probable cause search led to the seizure of 11.5 lbs of marijuana. The marijuana was located in three separate buckets in the trunk of the vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle, Kenneth R. Waltz Jr. (DOB 1/25/58) of Laytonville, CA, and a passenger in the vehicle, Donata K. Compa (F), (DOB 2/5/58), Laytonville, CA were both lodged in the Lancaster County Corrections each on a charge of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver.