Two Illinois men who got caught with 128 pounds of marijuana in a stop on Interstate 80 near Lincoln have been found guilty of possession with intent to deliver.

Ali Khalil, 31, and Issa Abu-Serieh, 30, both of the Chicago area, ended up facing charges after Lancaster County Sheriff's deputies stopped them Jan. 25, 2015, in separate rental cars for following too closely. Khalil was behind a semi, Serieh was behind Khalil. 

They appeared to be traveling together. One of the men admitted it. The other said he was alone.

A deputy smelled air fresheners and raw marijuana from Khalil's car. Khalil declined a request to search, but a police dog alerted to the smell of drugs. Deputies searched the Nissan Altima's trunk and found it loaded with vacuum sealed bags of marijuana.

A set of keys to the Altima and its spare tire were in the SUV Serieh had been driving.

At a bench trial, attorneys for the two argued the evidence should be suppressed, calling the stop pretext to search, the search unwarranted and their arrests illegal.

Lancaster County District Judge Andrew Jacobsen issued a verdict Tuesday, finding them guilty and setting sentencing in January.

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Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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