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Another out-of-state pot bust of locals

The arrest of two Nevada County residents for allegedly smuggling 24 pounds of marijuana through Nebraska has authorities scrambling here to find the larger picture.

Gary Benedict, 60, of Nevada City, and Kelly Robyn, 47, of Grass Valley, were arrested Saturday on Interstate 80 near North Platte, Neb., according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

The arrest came after officers pulled over their 1994 Cadillac for speeding.



“We’re working on it from this angle,” said Nevada County Undersheriff Rich Kimball on Monday.

There have been several arrests of Nevada County residents in other states in recent months for transporting marijuana, but Kimball said he did not have the exact number.




“It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” he said.

Benedict is known to the Sheriff’s Department, and was arrested in 1997 for allegedly having a methamphetamine lab, Kimball said.

Both suspects remained incarcerated Monday at the Lincoln County Jail in Nebraska on bail of $10,000 apiece, according to a jailer.

The pair has already been arraigned on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and Benedict had an extra charge of methamphetamine possession, the spokesman said.

Benedict and Robyn will reappear in court Thursday in preliminary hearings to determine if there is a probability they committed a crime, the spokesman said. If that is found at the hearings, the case will go to one of Nebraska’s district courts as a felony for trial.

After the suspects’ vehicle was pulled over, the arresting officer suspected the situation might be criminal, according to Maj. Russ Stanczyk of the Nebraska State Patrol.

If the officer had smelled the marijuana, that would have been enough probable cause to search the vehicle immediately, Stanczyk said. Instead, the officer called in a patrol dog, which alerted officers that something might be in the trunk of the Cadillac.

When officers searched the trunk, they allegedly found 24 pounds of marijuana in two large vacuum-sealed bags inside a large duffel bag. They also allegedly found a small amount of methamphetamine.

Deb Collins of the Nebraska Highway Patrol said troopers don’t pull over drivers for merely having license plates from California.

“They have to commit an infraction before they are pulled over,” Collins said.

There is a constant flow of drugs through Nebraska on I-80, Stanczyk said. However, Stanczyk said there have been cases in the past few years where people from other states that allow medical marijuana think their prescriptions are good elsewhere.

“A California prescription does not allow you to carry (marijuana) in Nebraska,” Stanczyk said. “We don’t find them to be valid here.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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