West Virginia traffic stop leads to drug seizure

Two West Virginia residents and an Ohio man were taken into custody during the early morning hours of Nov. 22 after drugs and drug paraphernalia were allegedly discovered in the vehicle they were traveling in during a routine traffic stop. A 43-year-old Wheeling man and a 36-year-old Wheeling woman have both been charged with possessing illegal drugs with the intent to distribute. The man also faces a gun possession charge. A 34-year-old Ohio man was released after being issued a citation for possessing a controlled substance.

According to a Wheeling Police Department report, officers conducted a traffic stop on North Huron Street at approximately 1:40 a.m. for an undisclosed traffic violation. Officers say that they became suspicious and decided to search the vehicle after detecting the odor of marijuana. The ensuing search is said to have led to the discovery of an undisclosed quantity of a substance believed to be methamphetamine and items commonly used to consume the drug.

Based on this evidence, officers obtained a warrant to search a residence on North Erie Street. When they arrived at the Wheeling Island home, officers allegedly found 85 grams of methamphetamine and a substance believed to be methamphetamine. Officers also claim to have discovered an undisclosed number of firearms and items described in police reports as 'drug materials."

When presented with a sequence of events like this, experienced criminal defense attorneys may question the validity of the probable cause to search the vehicle. This is because judges may find claims that searches were based on the odor of marijuana difficult to believe when no traces of the drug were discovered. When an initial search is deemed to have violated rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, any evidence obtained stemming from that search might be considered equally tainted. In these situations, attorneys may seek to have drug charges dismissed.

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