It started, as these stories often do, with a routine traffic stop. When a backup officer arrived, early on Saturday evening, he just happened to be a deputy with a drug-sniffing dog. The deputy K-9, “Prince,” smelled trouble.
And as the police in Florida’s panhandle began examining the inside of the Kia sedan, they came across two bags helpfully marked, “Bag Full of Drugs.”
It’s not exactly probable cause, but it’s a lead.
And police say it led to a jackpot: 75 grams (2.6 ounces) of methamphetamine, more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the date-rape drug GHB, 3.6 grams (0.12 ounces) of fentanyl, plus ecstasy, cocaine and assorted paraphernalia. The driver and passenger were both booked on multiple felony drug charges, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, with a hand from Prince of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.
“They don’t always make it that easy for us,” said Lieutenant W. Robert Cannon of the Florida Highway Patrol of the clearly marked drug bags. “If it weren’t for the fact that we’re talking about date rape drugs, fentanyl, which we all know can be deadly, cocaine and the other drugs, it would be humorous.”
Cannon said Trooper Marlon Boggan was on routine patrol, not targeting drugs or any other special assignment, when he started to run radar on Interstate 10 near Holt, Florida, Mr Boggan reportedly clocked a Kia going 95 mph in a 70 mph zone, and pulled it over.
Mr Boggan asked for identification from both the driver and the passenger, Lt Cannon said, and the passenger reportedly told the trooper, “I probably shouldn’t give this to you.”
Boy was he right about that.
Mr Boggan ran the licence and found the passenger, Joshua M. Reinhardt, 34, of Orlando, had an outstanding felony warrant for probation violation on a grand theft conviction. But the trooper couldn’t just snatch Mr Reinhardt. His dispatcher had to check with Orange County, Florida, to see if they would extradite the prisoner once he was arrested, Cannon said, or else he would be released.
Mr Reinhardt and the driver, Ian C. Simmons, 34, of Windermere, Florida, both started acting suspiciously, and Mr Boggan had to kill time while his dispatcher checked on extradition, Lt Cannon said. So Mr Boggan called for backup, and a Santa Rosa County sheriff’s deputy arrived with Prince. The dog took a stroll around the Kia, Lt Cannon said, and “alerted to narcotics in the vehicle.”
Mr Reinhardt and Mr Simmons were removed from the Kia, and the officers found the car to be full of drugs. Well maybe not full, but carefully stashed throughout. “Every corner of the car had drugs in it,” Lt Cannon said the trooper reported.
Of the two bags labelled “Bag Full of Drugs,” one had suspected ecstasy and marijuana, while the other had plastic bags and paraphernalia, Lt Cannon said. The estimated street value of the drugs was $15,450. Both men were handed four counts of felony and two counts of misdemeanour drug charges, and were being held in the Santa Rosa County jail on Tuesday night in lieu of $117,000 bond.
A brief review of the Internet finds that a “Bag Full of Drugs” is available in both accessory pouch and tote sizes. “There’s nothing more fun than walking around town with your ironic bag full of drugs,” one vendor notes.
The Santa Rosa sheriff’s office posted on its Facebook page: “Note to self – do not traffic your illegal narcotics in bags labeled ‘Bag Full Of Drugs.’ Our K-9s can read.”
“Self,” sheriff? Now that’s ironic.