Traffic stop for phone mount violation ends in big pot bust

eric torres mugshot
Eric Torres

After an officer with Utah Highway Patrol pulled over a man for having his phone illegally mounted on his windshield, the officer’s questioning eventually led police to search the man and his car, leading them to 61 pounds of marijuana and various other narcotics.

By Utah state law, non-transparent objects like phones may only be mounted on the highest part of a windshield or the bottom left corner of it. The patrolman said in court documents that the man had two phones mounted at the front of the car, one in in the middle of the windshield and the other legally mounted on the dashboard.

The patrolman pulled over Eric Torres, 22, on Dec. 12 after driving next to him on Interstate 70, seeing the two mounted phones, and pacing the vehicle traveling 15 mph below the 80-mph speed limit.

After the patrolman told Torres the reason for the stop, he apologized for the illegally mounted phone and immediately removed it. According to the officer, Torres said that the car was a rental – that of a friend of a friend’s wife – but that he had no idea of her name. He gave to the officer a rental agreement that showed the car due back in California six days later.

Torres said his license out of California was revoked and provided the officer a U.S. passport, at which point the officer became suspicious and asked the man to come to his patrol vehicle.

As Torres got out of the car, the officer said he spotted a cut pink straw in the pocket of the driver’s side door. Torres said he did not know what it was and that it came with the rental, according to the officer, who said that he found white residue at the bottom of one end of the straw consistent with narcotic usage.

Upon interviewing Torres, the officer noted that his story – that he was traveling to Denver, where he would leave the rental, to see his uncle then fly back to California – was inconsistent with the terms of the rental agreement he had provided, which required that he return the car to California.

The officer also said Torres was “extremely nervous and often struggled to answer my questions in a timely manner.” He eventually arrested him for driving on a suspended license, and a deputy with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office began searching Torres and the car.

The officers allegedly found on Torres and in his car various narcotics, including less than an ounce of heroin and methamphetamine, a baggie of loose bud marijuana, three cell phones, and in the trunk of the vehicle, five garbage bags of vacuum-sealed containers of marijuana, totaling approximately 61 pounds in weight.

Torres faces two felony charges of possession of narcotics with intent to distribute, two misdemeanor charges for possession of drug and paraphernalia, one charge for driving on a suspended license, and an infraction for illegally placed material on the windshield.