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Highway Patrol seizes over 320 pounds of marijuana in single traffic stop near Billings

Posted at 2:33 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-01 13:17:30-05

BILLINGS — A 42-year-old Washington man is facing felony charges after a Montana Highway Patrol trooper seized more than 320 pounds of marijuana from the man's car in a traffic stop near Billings.

Chunhong Huang was traveling from Seattle to New York on Jan. 24 when he was pulled over around 11:45 a.m. by a state trooper on Interstate 94 in Yellowstone County. According to court documents, the trooper said he observed Huang cross the center line twice and decided to pull him over.

Once the trooper got to the vehicle, he noticed multiple squared-off duffel bags partially covered by a blanket in the back seat. A passenger was also in the front seat.

The trooper asked for Huang's driver's license and registration, and Huang got out his cell phone. The trooper then asked him to come back to the patrol car to review the documents. While in the vehicle, the trooper said Huang spoke broken English, but he was able to determine Huang spoke Chinese. The trooper used a phone translator app to communicate.

According to documents, Huang initially said he was traveling from Seattle to Boston to visit his father in the hospital. He couldn't identify the hospital, which, along with his other observations, made the trooper believe Huang was transporting illicit drugs. After Huang was unable to answer two other questions, the trooper said Huang began to cry.

Huang then admitted someone had placed the bags inside his car and paid him $3,000 to travel to New York with them. He said he didn't know what was in them but knew the contents were illegal. The trooper then asked Huang if he could search the bags, and Huang said yes.

Two other Montana Highway Patrol officers arrived on the scene to wait with Huang and the passenger, who also denied knowing what was in the bags. The troopers then searched the vehicle and found numerous vacuum-sealed bags containing raw marijuana, which was estimated to weigh about 200 pounds. It is only legal in Montana to possess up to one ounce of marijuana at one time.

Huang pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of criminal possession with intent to distribute, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was released on bond following the plea.