Cash, assault rifle, pot seized in car stop

Posted: Oct 25, 2011 12:57 PM PDT Updated: Oct 25, 2011 1:01 PM PDT

By Phil Benson

A car pulled over for speeding Thursday evening along U.S. 93 in Yavapai County led sheriff's deputies to a drug and contraband investigation.

A passenger in the vehicle, Omar Mendoza, 34, was arrested on charges of prohibited possessor, possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony, and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

A deputy discovered $2,000 dollars in Mendoza's pocket. The deputy opened the trunk lid and detected an odor of marijuana.

The driver, a 26-year-old California man, eventually admitted that Mendoza told him the trunk had contained 10 pounds of marijuana during their earlier drive to Phoenix, YCSO said. The deputy deployed his K9 who immediately alerted on various portions of the vehicle.

During a search of the interior, deputies found an AR-15 assault rifle under the back seat. Deputies also found additional U.S. currency and a cell phone in the center console area of the car.

The total amount of money found exceeded $3,700 and investigators said it was likely involved in a drug or weapons transaction.

Mendoza claimed he was transporting the rifle to California at the request of the Pontiac's owner, deputies said. Mendoza also admitted possessing the marijuana found within the vehicle, but denied knowing anything about 10 pounds of marijuana allegedly delivered earlier in Phoenix.

Mendoza was booked into the Camp Verde Detention Center. Deputies said Mendoza admitted he is an illegal immigrant and he is being held without bond.