The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office reports the arrest of a Cedaredge man, 68-year-old Steven McElmury, for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
McElmury was arrested Thursday, Jan. 21, after a sheriff's K-9 indicated the odor of narcotics coming from McElmury's 2014 Dodge Ram pickup, which was found unoccupied in a business parking lot in Lincoln, Neb. The pickup had been observed driving eastbound on Interstate 80 a few minutes earlier.
McElmury was contacted inside the business and the pickup was searched. Four U-Haul moving boxes, four large duffel bags and a large blue tote in the bed of the pickup were found to contain individually heat-sealed pound bags of high grade marijuana. According to a press release issued by the Lancaster County sheriff, the total weight of the marijuana was 515 pounds, with an estimated retail value of over $2.5 million. User quantities of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $4,441 were found inside the cab of the vehicle.
McElmury is being held at the county's adult detention facility. He was also cited for possession of money in violation of state statutes and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The press release states the investigation into the source of the marijuana and the intended destination for distribution is ongoing.
According to Delta County records, McElmury purchased property on Brimstone Road north of Cedaredge in May 2015. Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said a marijuana grow operation at that address was suspected but never confirmed.
Deputies visited the property in August 2015, but were unable to contact McElmury. They did contact a construction worker, but he said he didn't have authority to grant access to the property.
"At that time, we were unable to determine if the grow operation was in compliance or not, so no criminal investigation was conducted," Sheriff McKee said.
"It's hard to say whether the [seized] marijuana was grown locally or was being transported for someone else," he added.
According to McKee, McElmury moved to the area from Cheyenne, Wyo.
Nebraska is one of several neighboring states that has filed a lawsuit claiming harm from the significant amount of Colorado-sourced marijuana being transported across state lines. Those states say Colorado's Amendment 64 is forcing them to dedicate time and resources to deal with a spike in felony cases. The lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's legal marijuana law is supported by six sheriffs in Colorado, including McKee.
The lawsuit is working its way through the U.S. District Court.