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Wisconsin man accused of moving 53 pounds of weed down I-90

Possession of 10 pounds or more of marijuana is a Class 3 felony in South Dakota.

South Dakota Highway Patrol. (Republic file photo)
South Dakota Highway Patrol. File photo / Forum News Service

A Wisconsin man is facing jail time after South Dakota state troopers say he was caught with 53 pounds of marijuana on his way home from Oregon.

Mark Howell, 52, of Plainfield, Wis., was charged with possession of marijuana over 10 pounds, possession with intent to distribute one pound or more and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police say Howell was driving east on Interstate 90 near Alexandria at approximately 1:45 p.m. Monday, Sept. 6, when a trooper noticed he was driving too close to another vehicle. The trooper says he witnessed Howell smoking a cigar while "jamming out" and "head banging."

After being stopped, Howell told Highway Patrol that he was returning home to Wisconsin after making a last-minute trip to visit somebody in Portland. The trooper noticed food and a couple cases of drinks in the passenger compartment.

An arrest affidavit alleges that when Howell joined the trooper in his patrol car, he denied the presence of any drugs, including marijuana, in the vehicle. When the trooper deployed his police service dog, Demi, the K9 indicated the presence of illegal substances.

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After obtaining probable cause, the trooper conducted a search of the vehicle and uncovered two duffel bags containing 53 pounds of marijuana. Howell was arrested and transported to the Davison County Jail.

Possession of marijuana in quantities 10 pounds or more and possession with intent to distribute quantities of one pound or more are both Class 3 felonies, and each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a $30,000 fine or both.

Howell had his first appearance in a courtroom Tuesday afternoon, and is scheduled to appear again on Sept. 15.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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