When police conduct a traffic stop, they are almost always on the alert for illegal goods, most commonly illicit drugs. However, not every traffic stop justifies a search for additional criminal activity. The circumstances of the stop must provide probable cause for a search of the vehicle for evidence of further criminal activity. The mere fact of the traffic violation does not, by itself, constitute probable cause for a police officer’s suspicion that the vehicle contains evidence of additional criminal activity.
A recent traffic stop in Wilkes County yielded a seizure of 220 pounds of methamphetamine valued at $2 million. Three people were arrested and charged with various drug-related crimes. A male suspect was charged with two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine, one count of conspiring to traffic in methamphetamine, and of possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver and sell the drug. The two additional suspects, a man and a woman, were also charged with two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine, one count of conspiring to traffic in methamphetamine, and of possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver and sell the drug.
One of the suspects has been charged with maintaining a residence for selling methamphetamine and for misdemeanor child abuse. Another suspect was charged with maintaining a vehicle for selling methamphetamine. A fourth suspect is missing and is being hunted by police. Police used a search warrant to seize an additional supply of methamphetamine and some firearms from a house in Wilkes County. According to police, the traffic stop and search warrant was the result of an ongoing investigation.
The three suspects who have been apprehended are entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until they have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, they may benefit from retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist them. A knowledgeable attorney can provide a useful evaluation of the evidence, review the prosecution’s case for any procedural errors and, if appropriate, negotiate a useful plea agreement with the prosecution.