North Charleston officers who stopped a young mother's speeding SUV late Wednesday got more than they expected when they opened a box of Cheerios stashed behind the driver's seat: a loaded handgun and about 25 bags of marijuana.

Mariah Christine Dowling, 19, of Commander Road, was arrested on charges of illegally carrying a pistol and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Her passenger, 20-year-old Julius Quintez Manigault of Apache Street, will face the same charges.

Two officers from the North Charleston Police Department were patrolling Rivers Avenue around 8:30 p.m. when they saw a Dodge Durango going 50 mph in a 30-mph zone. When the officers stopped the vehicle, Dowling told them she was hurrying to see her child, who was sick in the hospital, according to the incident report.

But Dowling, who was wanted on a shoplifting charge, said her passenger had a bag of pot. Manigault was acting nervous and complaining that he was chilly, but denied having anything illegal.

The officers' search of the glove compartment revealed 33 empty sandwich bags and a digital scale, tools used in packaging marijuana, they said. They also found a black ski mask on the back seat and an herb grinder in Manigault's pocket, according to the report.

But behind the driver's seat was a General Mills Cheerios box. Inside, they found 25 bags of pot weighing 38 grams -- or about 1.3 ounces -- and a .25-caliber pistol loaded with eight rounds.

The father of Dowling's child later told the police that the child was staying with family members and that Dowling had just left his home with his SUV and "a gallon of milk along with a box of Cheerios."

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or on Twitter at @offlede.