Without traffic stops, drug enforcement officers would have far fewer arrests. In North Carolina and nationwide, most everyone who drives with a cache of drugs in a car seems to have an uncanny predilection for speeding, having a break light out or some other traffic violation that will loudly invite the police to stop the vehicle, which more often than not then results in a search and an arrest on drug charges. The other major way in which drug violators invite being arrested is their unquenchable habit of smoking marijuana in the vehicle while driving with illegal contraband.
When the officer smells marijuana smoke, everything becomes fair game. The odor of marijuana emanating from a car window has been used by police in thousands of cases to justify reasonable suspicion for a further search of both the person and the car. In a recent North Carolina traffic stop, however, police may have failed to explain why they stopped a vehicle on NC Highway 11 on July 24.
Reports say that it was a ‘traffic stop’ but do not explain further. They arrested the four occupants on the spot for felony drug trafficking of heroin. They found 83 bags of heroin in the car along with $1,000 of stolen merchandise and thousands in cash. They were placed on $1 million bond each.
The bust occurred in Lenoir County. The Sheriff there explained that there’s a connection between property crimes such as thefts with drug addiction. He said that addicts commit those crimes to support their addictions. However, in this case the four are charged with drug trafficking, which makes the Sheriff’s explanation a bit fuzzy in its logic.
A North Carolina traffic stop requires reasonable suspicion of a traffic or some other violation. It may just be typographical omission, but there is no mention in the news report of a specific reason why the police pulled the car over. They can’t just pick out random vehicles and stop them in the hopes of finding drug violations and making drug charges. If there was no valid reason to pull it over in the first place, a motion to dismiss or for suppression of the evidence may be considered by criminal defense counsel.
Source: witn.com, “Traffic Stop Nets 83 Bags Of Heroin, 4 Arrests,” July 26, 2013