Artez Ward and Michael Lewis had a similar experience in January. They were arrested after they left the airport and were pulled over with 125 pounds of marijuana stuffed in their suitcases. Like Wang and Li, Ward and Lewis would have been facing a mandatory minimum of three years in prison if convicted for marijuana trafficking charges, but those charges were dropped.

In a disposition letter, the prosecutor said because the defendants never made any comments to the troopers that pulled them over and because there was no bodycam video, the prosecutor could not prove who the suitcases belonged to. Halzbour said if the prosecutor had surveillance video from the airport baggage claim, the prosecutor would have likely had a stronger case to pursue.

“That would have tied the suitcases to these individuals. But a roadside stop where these individuals are detained and arrested, it’s not their vehicle. They were not driving. How does the government make the case to put those pieces of property with those individuals absent those external pieces of evidence? That’s critical,” Holzbaur said.