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Florida man charged after 78 pounds of meth found in van

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BILLINGS — A Florida man who was pulled over after authorities say he was speeding on Interstate 90 in south-central Montana faces a federal drug charge in a bust the Montana Department of Justice says was the largest meth seizure ever made in a traffic stop in the state.

Nicholas James Imhoff, 29, was arrested on Feb. 11 after authorities say a trooper found 78 pounds (35 kilograms) of methamphetamine in his rental minivan during a traffic stop near Columbus, The Billings Gazette reported. He made an initial court appearance Tuesday in Billings on a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He did not enter a plea.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan ordered Imhoff detained pending further proceedings, court records said. His attorney, Lance Lundvall, reserved the right to request a detention hearing. Lundvall did not immediately return an email Tuesday seeking comment.

Imhoff was driving a minivan he had rented in Las Vegas five days earlier, court records said.

Imhoff said he was traveling to North Dakota, but the trooper said Imhoff could not provide an address in North Dakota, that his story seemed inconsistent and he was acting nervously.

A K-9 unit alerted to drugs in the minivan, the trooper seized the vehicle and officials obtained a search warrant. The drugs were found under floor storage compartments in garbage bags, with some wrapped in duct tape, charging documents state.

The seizure “is by far the largest amount of meth we’ve seen in a single traffic stop,” John Barnes, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Justice, said last week.

The 78 pounds of meth is over 282,000 individual doses, officials said. In 2017, the Montana Highway Patrol seized a total of 68 pounds (31 kilograms) of meth.

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