A routine traffic stop in the Texas panhandle by a state trooper did not end well for a motorist who now faces a prison sentence and $10 million in fines for drug trafficking. Troopers arrested the man on a federal drug charge after a drug-sniffing dog alerted police to 16 pounds of cocaine in the man’s pickup truck in November 2012. He was recently indicted by a federal grand jury on federal cocaine trafficking charges stemming from the traffic stop.
According to reports of the incident, an officer saw the accused improperly signaling as he changed lanes multiple times on Interstate 40. After stopping the vehicle, the officer asked for permission to search the pickup. The driver refused to allow a search. It appears that the officer did not have probable cause to search the vehicle, but that quickly changed when another trooper showed up with a dog trained to detect drugs.
The police reportedly watched as the drug-sniffing dog moved around the pickup truck and signaled the officer’s to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. According to the officers, this was sufficient to establish probable cause to search the vehicle, and they found bundles of what appeared to be cocaine in the truck. Subsequent testing of the bundles at the Panhandle DPS office confirmed the presence of cocaine.
The penalties of a felony conviction for this amount of drugs include life imprisonment and substantial fines. A criminal defense attorney might be able to help mitigate the consequences for a person accused of drug offenses, particularly in cases where the evidence includes evidence seized by police. The actions of the officers involved in the search and other facts a criminal defense attorney might uncover during an investigation into the stop and subsequent arrest could possibly lead to a drug charge defense questioning the legitimacy of the search.
Source: Amarillo Globe-News, “Man faces drug trafficking charges,” Russell Anglin, Feb. 15, 2013