BLOOMINGTON — Two sisters from California face marijuana trafficking charges after their car was stopped by a McLean County Sheriff's deputy whose search of their vehicle turned up 16 pounds of marijuana.
Jaimie Bowen, 42 and Lindsay Bowen, 41, both of San Pablo, told police Wednesday they were heading to the Chicago area to visit family when they were stopped for a minor traffic infraction on Interstate 55 near Shirley, Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Horve told Associate Judge Pablo Eves on Thursday.
A sheriff's department dog indicated the presence of drugs in the vehicle. Inside, officers found 16 1-pound packages of marijuana ready for distribution, said Horve.
The prosecutor estimated the street value of the drugs at more than $100,000.
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Lindsay Bowen mouthed, "I'm sorry," to her mother, who was in the courtroom for the bond hearing.
According to Horve's statement in support of the charges, Lindsay Bowen told police she used marijuana for religious purposes.
A ledger containing a list of what appeared to be 16 drug customers was found in the vehicle, said Horve.
Defense lawyer Matt Lee asked for bond lower than the $500,000 requested by the state. He said the women would stay with relatives in Illinois while the case was pending.
Eves set bond at $300,000 for both women, meaning they must post $30,035 to be released. A March 8 arraignment is set.
If convicted, the women face up to 60 years on the marijuana trafficking and delivery charges.
It was the second major drug bust in a week on I-55 in McLean County. Last week, two men — also from California — were charged after state police seized cocaine valued at $5 million when a semitrailer truck was stopped and inspected.
Horve said then the seizure was third largest cocaine bust ever made in McLean County.
Brandon Weise, 35, of Murrieta, the semi driver, and his passenger, Miguel Martinez, 36, of Indio, are both charged with controlled substance trafficking and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.
State troopers seized 50 kilos of cocaine individually packaged for sale during the stop; total weight of the drugs was 110 pounds, said authorities.