Charges dropped against alleged marijuana smuggler

By Sarah Pridgeon

All charges against one of the two I-90 travelers arrested with almost 400 lbs of marijuana in January have been dropped. District Court approved a motion to dismiss the charges against Yeng Vang without prejudice.

The second suspect, Chengzhao Zhang, has entered into a plea agreement on one felony counts of possession. According to the plea agreement, the state in return will dismiss the felony charge of possession with intent to deliver.

Vang and Zhang were arrested on January 21 after Wyoming Highway Patrol was advised of a suspicious vehicle on I-90. At 2 p.m., the vehicle came into sight and allegedly slowed from 68 mph to 61 mph in a 75 mph zone on observing the trooper’s vehicle.

The trooper allegedly noted several signals that are often associated with vehicles transporting large quantities of narcotics. According to court reports, the vehicle was a rental; it was traveling relatively slowly; the driver appeared to be nervous and watching the trooper in the mirror; the driver was wearing a baseball cap with “U.S. Army” emblazoned on it, which smugglers sometimes do to dispel suspicion; and the trooper had reason to believe the vehicle was accompanied by a second, decoy vehicle.

The vehicle exited into Sundance and pulled in at Sundance Travel Center. During the ensuing conversation, Zhang allegedly gave conflicting information about his travel purpose and destination and appeared nervous.

According to court reports, Zhang, who is described as having an Asian accent, claimed to be an American citizen and to have served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. However, he was unable to provide further information other than that he was “a soldier”.

A K-9 alerted to the presence of illegal substances. Boxes in the back of the truck were found to contain 285 packages of marijuana weighing a total of 382 lbs, as well as various capsules and brown powder.

Yang later allegedly admitted that he was shipping the marijuana for someone else and told the trooper he was just trying to make a living. He was interviewed by DCI Special Agents, to whom he allegedly admitted the pair were being paid $20,000 to transport the marijuana to St. Paul, Minnesota.