Police in Benton have stated that they have stepped up their arrests for heroin violations in the past several weeks, indicating that there is an influx of the drug into the area. In one incident on Aug. 13, the police pulled over a car for an undisclosed traffic violation and found a number of illegal drugs and a firearm. Both occupants were charged with drug crimes under Arkansas law, involving possession with intent to deliver both heroin and methamphetamine, along with other charges.
The press reports are sketchy, leaving numerous open questions. Defense counsel will want to examine carefully every aspect of the police procedures in this incident. Although the police indicate that the stop was for a traffic violation, counsel will want to investigate to determine whether the police have merely tagged this as a traffic stop as a subterfuge to search suspected individuals in connection with drugs.This is sometimes done when sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant is lacking.
In that connection, Benton police made a second alleged traffic stop of another individual on Aug. 15, again with no information reported about the nature of the traffic violation. The police searched the individual, who was reported to be an active parolee, and allegedly found methamphetamine, heroin and other contraband. The man was charged similarly to the individuals in the Aug. 13 stop.
The Benton Police Chief told reporters that, in addition to the three foregoing drug arrests, there were four others arrested for heroin-related matters under Arkansas law within the last two weeks. With stepped-up procedures to go after suspected small-time drug dealers being announced by the police, defense counsel for an accused person must step up his or her own protocol for investigating the details of police procedures in these matters. If a stop for a purported traffic violation is found to be in fact a stop to search for drug crimes, without a warrant to do so, the whole procedure and the charges are subject to possible dismissal for violations of state and federal constitutional principles.
Source: thv11.com, "3 recent Benton arrests tied to heroin", Aug. 18, 2015