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Women in Yellowstone National Park Busted for 290 Pounds of Pot

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

The only thing higher than Old Faithful and smokier than that famous bear in Yellowstone National Park last week was an illegally parked recreational vehicle.

About 10 p.m. on May 28, U.S. Park Rangers Christopher Mengak and Caitlin Schauer saw a large white Monarch SE Monaco RV at the Grant Village Marina Area with its lights on and its generator running, according to an affidavit filed with U.S. District Court.

The rangers knocked on the door and were greeted by West Virginian Daphne Watkins who said she and her friend Janette Day wanted to camp at Grant Village, found it wasn’t open, and decided to stay at the parking lot.

Mengak smelled marijuana smoke. Watkins told him she and Day had smoked before dinner, and gave him a couple of make-up bags with pipes and marijuana.

He then asked if they had any more. Watkins said she was trafficking and had 289 pounds, but Day said the amount was closer to 200 pounds.

Schauer told them they were under arrest. Then Watkins blurted out, “‘I knew what I was doing…. I wasn’t planning on getting caught but I damn sure knew what I was doing…. I never did it while my children were children,’” according to the affidavit.

During a search of the RV, Schauer found large vacuum-sealed prepackaged bags weighing about 290.5 pounds.

After waiving her Miranda rights the next day, Watkins told National Park Service agents that she had been trafficking marijuana and cash between California and the east coast about four times a year for four years. She trimmed the drug, triple-sealed it, and wiped the packages with ammonia to avoid detection from a police canine, according to the affidavit.

Her employer in West Virginia was going to pay her $15,000 for this trip, plus $9,000 in expenses. Day, she said, would be paid $12,000.

Watkins and Day were each charged with one count of conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute. If convicted, they face between five and 40 years behind bars and $5 million fines, according to the charging documents.

Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carmen ordered them held in custody.

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