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Westmoreland

Cops: Cranberry man pulled over on Route 119 near Youngwood with 75 pounds of pot

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 12:27 p.m.
Sealed, one-pound packages of marijuana sit on the tailgate of a truck Pennsylvania State Police stopped Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Youngwood. Police arrested the driver, Giovanni Baassiri of Cranberry, after getting a search warrant and discovering the bags inside the truck.
Pennsylvania State Police
Sealed, one-pound packages of marijuana sit on the tailgate of a truck Pennsylvania State Police stopped Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Youngwood. Police arrested the driver, Giovanni Baassiri of Cranberry, after getting a search warrant and discovering the bags inside the truck.
Blocks of concentrated, marijuana-derived wax State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Pennsylvania State Police
Blocks of concentrated, marijuana-derived wax State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
A rifle State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Pennsylvania State Police
A rifle State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
A handgun State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Pennsylvania State Police
A handgun State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
A handgun State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Pennsylvania State Police
A handgun State Police seized from the home of Giovanni Baassiri after he was arrested in a traffic stop in Youngwood with 38 pounds of suspected marjuana in his truck on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

A traffic stop and seizure of $150,000 worth of marijuana in Westmoreland County on Tuesday led authorities to apartments in Pittsburgh and Butler County, where they confiscated another $240,000 worth of a powerful marijuana extract known as “Shatter,” state police said.

Greensburg Lt. Shawn Denning reported that Giovanni O. Baassiri, 34, of Cranberry Township was pulled over on Route 119 near Youngwood at around 1:30 p.m. for not using a turn signal when he switched lanes, and following another vehicle too closely.

Denning reported that troopers smelled a “strong odor” of marijuana coming from inside Baassiri's Chevy Silverado and asked for permission to search it.

“Trooper (Glenn) Adams advised Mr. Baassiri that he could smell the odor of marijuana and asked him if there was any inside the vehicle. Mr. Baassiri advised there was nothing inside the vehicle and subsequently would not allow the troopers to search the vehicle,” Denning wrote in court documents.

Police got a search warrant, summoned a state police dog and discovered the 75 individually-packaged, one-pound marijuana bags in two large boxes inside the Silverado, Denning reported.

Authorities estimated the value of a pound of marijuana, depending on the quality, at anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000 a pound, meaning the seizure is worth at least $150,000.

State Trooper Steve Limani said the seizure led authorities to acquire warrants to search apartments Baassiri has in Washington Place in Pittsburgh and Glenwood Court in Cranberry, Butler County.

There, troopers seized 50 pounds of a concentrated marijuana extract known as “Shatter,” an AR-15 rifle and two .45-caliber pistols. They also confiscated about $4,000 in currency, Limani said.

“Information gathered revealed the suspect is trafficking the narcotics to Western Pennsylvania from California,” Limani said.

“That Shatter is a marijuana extract ... a resin much more powerful than the typical leaf marijuana that is smoked. People usually keep it in plastic in their freezers, and when they want to smoke it, shatter it and put a small piece in their pipe ... like I said, it's really very powerful,” Limani said.

Hempfield District Judge Anthony Bompiani arraigned Baassiri on charges of delivery of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and traffic citations in the Westmoreland case. Bompiani ordered him held in the Westmoreland County Prison after he failed to post $200,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing June 26.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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