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Judge: Behavior by North Dakota deputy negates huge pot bust

Sheriff's officials found 476 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in North Dakota in January 2018. (Photo courtesy Stutsman County, N.D., Sheriff’s Office)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- A North Dakota judge says that nearly 500 pounds of marijuana seized during a vehicle stop cannot be used as evidence because a county deputy did not have a good reason to be suspicious.

Bee Thor of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Nhia Lee of St. Paul, Minnesota, were both charged with possession of drugs after the Jan. 21 bust on Interstate 94 near Jamestown.

Stutsman County Deputy Matt Thom testified he made the stop because the vehicle was going 2 mph under the speed limit, the suspects were from St. Paul, the driver was sitting too rigidly and did not look at the deputy when he drove alongside the vehicle, and no luggage was visible.

Judge Jay Schmitz says Thom's behavior violated Fourth Amendment rights regarding unreasonable searches and seizures.

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