Traffic stop in Arizona leads to major drug seizure

| Jun 8, 2020 | criminal defense, illegal search and seizure |

A routine traffic stop in Arizona on May 14 led to a significant drug seizure according to a police report. The Casa Grande Police Department says that the more than 190 pounds of controlled substances discovered during the traffic stop in Pinal County was the largest narcotics haul in its history. A 31-year-old man and a 21-year-old man were taken into custody at the scene in connection with the drugs. Media outlets report that they are both being held in on $75,000 bonds. They face charges of possessing and transporting heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.

Pulled over for following too closely

The men were proceeding westbound on Interstate 10 near Casa Grande when their Buick sedan was pulled over by CGPD officers. The officers say that they initiated the traffic stop because the Buick had been following another vehicle too closely. The men are said to have told the officers that they were painters. The officers say this made them suspicious because the men had no traces of paint on their hands or clothing. Officers also claim that both men seemed extremely nervous.

Officers search car without a warrant

The officers say that they then asked the men for permission to search the vehicle. Initial reports do not indicate whether or not permission was granted. However, a search was conducted, and officers claim to have found drugs concealed in various places inside the car. The spare tire was also said to have been filled with packages containing drugs. Officers seized about 140 pounds of heroin, more than a pound of cocaine and approximately 50 pounds of fentanyl pills that had been altered to look like oxycodone tablets.

Questioning probable cause in narcotics cases

Cases like this one usually hinge on the admissibility of the drugs found. When police officers conduct searches without a warrant, they must be able to establish that they had probable cause to do so. This means prosecutors must convince a judge that police had good reason to believe that evidence of criminal activity would be uncovered. If you face drug charges linked to a warrantless search, an experienced criminal defense attorney could seek to have them dismissed if the police officers involved may have violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.