Drug Trafficker Sentenced

Drug Trafficker Sentenced Click to Enlarge Photo: Stearns County Jail

(KNSI) - One of two men accused of transporting hundreds of pounds of marijuana in Stearns County has admitted to the charge.

Richard Benjamin West pleaded guilty to importing drugs across state lines.

The 48-year-old from Fort Jones, California, was sentenced to 7 years and two months in prison stayed, meaning he won’t serve time any time unless he violates the terms of his 15 years on probation. He was given credit for 202 days served.

A charge of 1st degree possession of drugs was dismissed.

On December 20th, the Minnesota State Patrol pulled over an SUV on Interstate 94 near Sauk Centre for a traffic violation. West was driving the SUV.

The trooper says as he approached, he could smell a strong odor of marijuana and could see square bundles stacked to the ceiling.

Investigators found 289 pounds of marijuana.

West says he was helping, Nang Chang, of Wausau, Wisconsin, move the drugs from Washington state to Minnesota.

The 35-year-old passenger is facing charges of 1st degree possession of drugs and importing drugs across state lines.

Chang’s case is still making its way through the court. His next appearance is scheduled for August 6th.

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