By Travis Uresk
On 12/17/23, On US-40 near 35000 West in Duchesne County, Deputy Cox observed a vehicle traveling West at speeds at 89 mph in a 65 mph zone. The Deputy turned around and initiated a traffic stop.
Upon approaching the vehicle, there were two occupants. The driver was identified as 40-year-old Maureen Katherine Merrill. The passenger appeared very nervous and didn't want to look at the Deputy.
While speaking with the driver, Deputy Cox could smell a slight odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and asked Maureen if there were any drugs inside the vehicle. Maureen stated there wasn't, and the vehicle is her mother's, and she does use marijuana.
Deputy Cox ran Maureen's information, and it returned a denied driver's license and two statewide warrants, including one felony warrant. Cox had her exit the vehicle, explained the issues, and then placed her into handcuffs.
Deputy Cox asked Maureen if the passenger had a valid driver's license; she said he had never had one but told him his first name was Manuel. The Deputy returned to the vehicle to ask the passenger if he had someone to come and pick him up, and when he opened the door, the odor of marijuana came from the vehicle.
The passenger was asked for his name, and he said his last name was "Garcia," with a DOB of 5/9/88. He said he is from California and doesn't have anything in Utah. Dispatch ran the information for Manuel Garcia, and they could not find anyone with that name and DOB in Utah or California.
Manuel was asked multiple times what his name and DOB were, and he kept lying about what they were. Deputy Cox then conducted a search of his person due to the odor of marijuana and found a baggie with a strip of Suboxone, a Schedule 2 controlled substance. Manuel claimed to have a prescription but couldn't say which pharmacy or who his doctor's name was.
Manuel was placed into handcuffs and continued to claim that the information he provided was correct. At the jail, Deputy Cox spoke with the Unified Police Department, where the two are from, and they also couldn't find that name.
After speaking with Maureen, she said his name is 37-year-old Manuel Anthony Vela because she did his taxes last year. Cox asked Manuel for his social security number, and he said he didn't know what it was. Maureen said that she had his SS number in her phone from his taxes and found it for the Deputy.
It was also found that Manuel has a board of pardon warrant for the state of Utah for a second-degree felony.
Manuel has one prior conviction in the State of California in 2019 and another conviction in the State of Utah in 2019. His current offense is a felony. Manuel was booked into the Duchesne County Jail for false information to police, possession of controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, as well as his statewide warrant.