ASH FORK, AZ - Three men were arrested in northern Arizona Thursday after sheriff's deputies found 22 pounds of marijuana hidden in ice chests and luggage in the bed of their pickup truck.
According to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, a K9 deputy stopped the Ford F-150 truck on Interstate 40 near Ash Fork for violations.
While the officer was speaking to the driver and two passengers he noticed an odor of marijuana from inside the vehicle.
The driver, 25-year-old Nao Thao, explained they were heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit family. The deputy learned the truck was a rental and due back then next day, which conflicted with their stated plans.
The deputy asked for permission to search the vehicle and was denied. He used the K9 narcotics detection dog to sniff the exterior of the truck body and at the rear passenger door seam the dog signaled, alerting to the presence of narcotics or drugs.
Based on the dog's alert, a search of the cab revealed a baggie containing marijuana under a rear passenger seat.
The deputy went over the bed of the pickup truck and found three ice chests and a suitcase.
Authorities say that under a layer of food and ice in each chest deputies found several zip-lock baggies containing marijuana. The suitcase also contained several baggies of marijuana.
The deputy found a total of 21 bags, each weighing about a pound, packaged for sale.
Thao and his passengers, 21-year-old Blong Thao and 23-year-old Tou Xiong, admitted knowing about the marijuana and that it was going to Oklahoma for sales.
Deputies also recovered $1,800 from the suspects, all of whom were from California.
They were booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center and remain in custody on $10,000 bond each.