A Utah woman is being held in Fayette County Jail on $500,000 bond after being arrested on felony cannabis charges last Thursday afternoon.
Julia Augusta Constan Macri, 37, of Salt Lake City, was taken into custody after a vehicle search on Interstate 70 netted four duffle bags containing 61 individual packages of cannabis.
That search was initiated after a part-time sheriff’s deputy, Stacy McElroy, stopped the 2015 GMC Terrain driven by Macri, a rental vehicle, on possible charges of driving a vehicle with expired registration and following too closely, according to Fayette County Sheriff Chris Smith.
McElroy first had visual contact with the SUV at the 60-mile marker and made the traffic stop at the 68-mile marker at 2:55 p.m., with Smith joining him a short time later.
Because Macri was acting suspiciously, McElroy asked her to exit her vehicle, a request that she refused, and requested that the county’s K-9 officer, Ronnie Stevens, respond for an exterior search of the vehicle.
Smith said that the county’s K-9 dog, Tex, hit on both rear-wheel wells of the vehicle.
A search of the vehicle was then conducted, with officers finding four large duffel bags with luggage locks covered by black duct tape, he said.
McElroy cut open one of numerous bags in one of the duffel bags and saw what appeared to be cannabis.
Macri was taken into custody, and at the county jail, officers opened all four duffle bags. Inside the duffle bags were 61 individual sealed bags containing what appeared to be cannabis, each one weighing about 1 pound.
The street value of the substance was estimated to be as high as $305,000, Smith said.
The office of Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison filed on Friday three counts of cannabis charges against Macri. In the information filed by Morrison, Macri is charged with:
• Unlawful possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis; class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
• Cannabis trafficking, alleging that Macri brought into Illinois 2,500 or more grams of cannabis with the intent to deliver the substance; class 1 felony.
• Unlawful manufacture or delivery of cannabis, possessing more than 5,000 grams; class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
If there is a conviction in the case and it’s determined that Macri would be eligible for an extended term, the maximum sentences could be increased.
Macri made her first appearance in Fayette County Court on Friday morning, at which time Fayette County Resident Circuit Judge Don Sheafor set her bail at half a million dollars.
Sheafor also, over the objection of Macri, appointed a public defender to represent her.
Her first appearance and preliminary hearing are set for 11 a.m. next Wednesday. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution will present evidence to argue that the defendant should be held over for trial.
While in drug seizure cases law enforcement may seek seizure of a vehicle in which drugs are found, Smith said that that may not be pursued in this case.