A routine traffic stop turned into a 281-pound pot bust for a Pinal County Sheriff’s Department Deputy late Monday night.

The Deputy was patrolling Interstate 8 around 11 p.m. about 20 miles south of Maricopa when he attempted to stop a 1999 Chevy Suburban heading east, according to department spokesman Tim Gaffney.

The vehicle initially slowed and pulled to the right, but then accelerated away.

The deputy pursued the vehicle a short distance, until the driver pulled over and fled into the desert with three to four male passengers.

 Inside the truck, the deputy discovered 10 bales of marijuana valued at $140,500.

Deputies were unable to locate any of the suspects.

The bust rounds out one of the busiest years for pursuits tied to drug busts according to Gaffney.

From Jan. 1- Dec. 28, 2010, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputies were involved in 333 vehicle pursuits – more than double the 142 in 2007 and the 140 in 2008.

Pursuits this year led to deputies impounding more than 45,000 pounds of marijuana with a street value of more than $22 million.

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