Police say they found more than 19 pounds of marijuana in the car of a Whitewater man they stopped in Janesville early Monday morning.
Yovani Ramirez Mendoza, 21, of 903 E. Clay St., Whitewater, was charged in Rock County Court on Monday afternoon with possession with intent to deliver marijuana.
A Janesville police officer stopped Mendoza at 12:20 a.m. on West Racine Street for not having a front license plate and noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle, according to the criminal complaint.
The officer’s drug-sniffing dog alerted on the car, scratching with his paws on the driver’s door, according to the criminal complaint.
Officers found a duffel bag in the trunk with 18 vacuum-sealed bags of suspected marijuana and another bag that was tied shut, according to the complaint.
Documents in the vehicle indicated Mendoza attended a marijuana festival in California and included a boarding pass and airline documentation of a trip to Europe, along with currency from Denmark and Mexico, according to the complaint.
Mendoza had cash with him and in a backpack totaling $5,395, most of that in $50 and $20 bills, according to the complaint.
In court Monday, defense attorney Frank Raff asked for a low cash bond, arguing that Mendoza had no criminal record, lives in Whitewater and faces a charge of a nonviolent crime involving marijuana.
Assistant District Attorney Cheniqua White said Mendoza is a flight risk because of the indications of travel and the potential for a stiff sentence. The maximum penalty for the charge is 12 years and six months in the prison system.
White asked for a $5,000 cash bond, which is what Court Commissioner Larry Barton set.
Raff asked for a court date as soon as possible. Barton set Wednesday for a hearing that could include a waiver of preliminary hearing and arraignment.
Lt. Mark Ratzlaff of the Janesville police Street Crimes Unit said he had no idea of the quality of the marijuana in this case but estimated its value at $50,000, plus or minus $25,000, depending on the quality.
Green Bay police reported an arrest in May involving 20 pounds of marijuana that they valued at $70,000, according to news reports. Milwaukee police with a similar arrest in September reported the value of 20 pounds of medium-grade marijuana at $65,000.