An Oklahoma County Sheriff's deputies traffic stop for failure to signal when changing lanes led to the arrests of four people on drug trafficking charges.
According to reports, early Sunday morning, a sheriff's deputy saw a Chevy Malibu change lanes without signalling. As the deputy pulled the vehicle over, he noticed a white bag about the size of a baseball go sailing through an open window of the vehicle.
The deputy said that the four people inside the vehicle all appeared to be very nervous. The driver, identified as 32-year-old Cindy Marie White, told the deputy that she did not have her driver's license with her. Upon noting that her hands were visibly shaking, the deputy asked the driver to step out of the vehicle. He soon discovered that the woman had outstanding warrants, including one for forgery in Noble County from 2002.
Upon searching the other occupants of the vehicle, the deputy found that Robert Earnest Witt, 22, had three syringes more than 4 grams of meth in his pockets. Another man, identified as Jerry James Ritchie, 29, had $540 cash in his pockets.
The deputy then found the bag that he saw thrown from the vehicle, and determined that it contained 116.8 grams of crystal meth.
Although Witt allegedly admitted that the meth in his pocket was his, all four vehicle occupants denied ownership of the nearly 117 gram bag of meth.
Deputies arrested White, Witt, and Ritchie and their companion, Sandie Marie Walker, 31.
White is currently held in the Oklahoma County Jail on complaints of failure to signal, obtaining money or property by bogus check, and trafficking in illegal drugs.
Ritchie remains jailed on complaints of trafficking in illegal drugs and acquiring and concealing proceeds derived from a violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.
Witt and Walker were each arrested on a complaint of trafficking in illegal drugs. Jail records do not indicate that either is still in custody.
In order to be arrested for drug trafficking, a person need only to have in his or her possession a specified quantity of the drug. For methamphetamine, that amount is 20 grams of any substance containing a detectable amount of meth. Possessing 120 grams of meth would certainly be more than sufficient to trigger Oklahoma's drug trafficking statutes.
The sentence for conviction of meth trafficking is 4 years to life in prison, even as a first offense. The mandatory minimums increase with subsequent offenses. The fines associated with conviction depend upon the quantity of meth involved:
- 20 grams to less than 200 grams - $25,000 to $200,000
- 200 grams to less than 450 grams - $50,000 to $500,000
While possession of 450 grams or more of meth carries the same potential fine as possession of 200 grams to less than 450 grams, possession of methamphetamine in this quantity is considered aggravated trafficking. Aggravated drug trafficking is punishable by 15 years to life in prison.
Image Credit: DEA.gov