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State police seize 246 pounds of marijuana from SUV on Route 222 in Berks

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PUBLISHED: September 12, 2023 at 12:24 p.m. | UPDATED: September 12, 2023 at 12:25 p.m.

A New York man faces drug-trafficking charges after state police said they found 246 pounds of marijuana in a luxury SUV he was driving on Route 222 in southern Berks County.

Hassan T. Dager, 23, of Astoria, Queens, was committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail to await a hearing following arraignment Friday night before District Judge Alvin B. Robinson in Reading Central Court.

State police charged Dager with possessing and intending to deliver marijuana and vehicle code violations.

According to the probable cause affidavit:

A trooper assigned to the state police drug law enforcement division was in an unmarked vehicle monitoring southbound traffic in Brecknock Township on Friday about 10 a.m. when he saw a Porsche Cayenne with heavily tinted windows go by.

The trooper pulled out, and as he closed in on the SUV he could see the interior was filled to the roof with garbage bags that would have blocked the driver’s view out the side and rear windows. The SVU veered over the white line several times while the trooper followed it. The trooper turned on his emergency light and siren at the on-ramp from West Lancaster Avenue.

As he approached the car on the passenger side to talk to Dager, he smelled a strong odor of marijuana. Dager explained he was transporting hemp in the garbage bags. Hemp consists of the stem portion of the cannabis plant and, unlike marijuana, is not considered a controlled substance under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

A K-9 team specialized in narcotics detection was dispatched. The drug-detection dog signaled the presence of marijuana in the vehicle.

During the search, the trooper found 12 garbage bags containing 246 1-pound bags of suspected marijuana along with envelopes containing sticker labels for various flavors of THC products. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana.

The labels listed percentages of THC that far exceed the 0.30% threshold allowed by state law for a cannabis product to be considered hemp.

Dager insisted the product was fact hemp, evidenced by paperwork that purported to prove it. The trooper told him that he believed the paperwork was illegitimate. Dager was taken into custody.

One of the bags of suspected marijuana was transported to the state police crime lab in Bethlehem for testing. The analysis showed the level of THC was above the 0.30% threshold, so it was identified as marijuana.

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