By Travis Uresk
Ballard, Ut.- On 2/8/24, Deputy Russell was patrolling the Ballard area when he saw a vehicle that he thought had the incorrect license plates attached to it.
The deputy got close enough to the vehicle to rerun the license plate, and it was confirmed the vehicle didn't have the correct plates. The plates on the vehicle belonged to a 1997 Dodge truck, and the deputy was looking at a 2002 Chevy Suburban.
When Deputy Russell got behind the Chevy to run the plate, the driver turned into B's gas station next to one of the gas pumps. The deputy decided to drive down the road and wait for the vehicle to return to the highway again.
As he waited, the deputy called Sgt Watkins, who was just down the road, and informed him that he would be stopping a vehicle. The deputy asked for Sgt Watkins to respond with his police K9.
Deputy Russell parked and waited for the Suburban, and shortly after, the vehicle pulled onto the highway and went toward Roosevelt. The vehicle drove past the deputy, and he pulled onto the highway to conduct a traffic stop. The Suburban pulled into the Big O Tires parking lot with the deputy behind them.
The vehicle pulled in, facing the building to where the deputy couldn't get behind the vehicle, so he faced the driver's side door.
As the deputy came to a stop, one single male occupant exited the Suburban. The deputy ordered the man to stay inside the vehicle, but he refused to obey orders.
Deputy Russell explained the reason for the stop was the license plate issue, and the male said he knew about it. It was explained to 44-year-old Epigmenio Rascon Almanza that it was illegal, and the deputy asked for current registration and insurance. Epigmenio wasn't able to provide either.
It was explained to Epigmenio that his vehicle would be towed and that he would get a citation.
Sgt Watkins conducted a free air sniff with his K9, and his K9 alerted to an odor but didn't give an indication.
Epigmenio was issued a citation for driving on a suspended driver's license, operating a vehicle without insurance, failure to register a vehicle, and having a license plate removed from the registered vehicle and placed on another. It was explained to Epigmenio that he couldn't leave until the impound was complete.
When the impound was completed, Sgt Watkins took pictures of the vehicle and the items inside. Just as Deputy Russell was giving Epigmenio his copy of the impound, Sgt Watkins found a small bag that was sticking out of the front driver and middle seats.
When removing the baggie, it contained a crystal-like substance that Sgt Watkins believed to be meth.
The officers told Epigmenio to stop as he was walking across the street, but he wouldn't stop until he got across the street, where the two officers grabbed him and took him into custody.
Epigmenio was told that a small baggie of meth was found and that he was going to jail for possession of methamphetamine, along with the other charges that were issued to Epigmenio.
Epigmenio Almanza was taken to the Uintah County Jail and booked for the charges below.