Helper police stop automobile, arrest suspects on drug charges
|Seven grams of suspected cocaine were found at 63 N. Main Street in Helper on July 2. According to Police Chief George Zamantakis, local officers do not see the drug very often, although it is beginning to come back.|
A traffic stop in Helper led to the seizure of $6,100 in suspected marijuana and methamphetamines purportedly headed for distribution in Carbon County.
A federal fugitive was also apprehended in connection with the incident.
According to Police Chief George Zamantakis, an automobile traveling south on U.S. Highway 6 was pulled over June 28 by Officer Trent Anderson between Swift's Stop 'N Shop and south Helper at 10:39 p.m. for a license plate violation.
The vehicle's driver, Timothy C. White, was arrested on an activewarrant issued by the 3rd District Court in connection with a forgery case in Salt Lake. The court had fixed cash-only bail on the outstanding warrant at $5,000.
When the male front seat passenger was asked for identification to drive the automobile from the scene, the subject reportedly told the police his name was Richard Velarde.
Zamantakis indicated that Anderson found Velarde was also wanted for an active warrant for speeding and driving on a suspended license. Velarde was placed under arrest.
Zamantakis said that, incident to the arrests, Anderson searched the vehicle at arms' length. The Helper police officer also asked for consent to search the purse of a female passenger, Heather Campbell, who was riding in the back seat with her young child.
Campbell consented and, during the process of the search, Anderson purportedly discovered a baggy with suspected controlled substance residue.
Anderson requested assistance at the scene from the city's canine officer, Lynn Archuleta, and Helper police dog Brooke.
According to Zamantakis, Brooke conducted an exterior search of the vehicle and reacted strongly in the bumper area. The dog's reaction was considered by Archuleta to be a sign for the possible presense of narcotics.
Upon opening the vehicle's trunk, the police chief said the officers detected the suspected odor of marijuana. Brooke was placed in the trunk, where the dog zeroed in on a white plastic bag. The bag was opened. The officers found a grocery sack containing another clear, plastic bag with one pound of suspected marijuana.
A second white grocery bag discovered in the trunk contained two ounces of suspected methamphetamines.
The officers determined, upon further investigation, that the suspected controlled substances were allegedly being brought from the Wasatch Front for distribution in the Carbon County area, noted the Helper police chief.
"They [Helper officers] are doing an awesome job," Zamantakis noted. "We make so many drug arrests here in Helper and we are all extremely impressed with Brooke."
Brooke has been with the Helper City Police Department since February. The drug dog was obtained from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office with donated funds.
The canine officer's pen, veterinarian appointments, a platform and a window tint to protect the dog in the patrol car along with other needed supplies have been donated by Price and Helper businesses as well as local police officers, Zamantakis pointed out.
"Brooke comes to us with very little cost to Helper city and the return has been tremendous," remarked the police chief.
The two men arrested as a result of the routine traffic stop were booked into the Carbon County Jail on possession of with intent to distribute a controlled substance charges.
The charges were enhanced one degree because the suspects had a child riding in the car at the time of the incident and were traveling within 1,000 feet of the Price River Parkway, indicated Zamantakis.
Campbell was referred to the Carbon County Attorney's Office and released from the scene due to the presence of the child.
"We try to affect the kids as the Helper police chief. "People may put a child in a bad situation, but we don't want to."
After arriving at the Carbon County jail, Velarde was read his Miranda Rights. According to Zamantakis, the suspect then advised the investigating officers that his name was Rico Marko Velarde, not Richard Velarde.
Upon running the suspects real name, law enforcement officers discovered that he was wanted by the United States Marshal's Office as a federal fugitive for probation violation in connection with possession of a dangerous weapon.
Zamantakis said the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) warrant advised police officers to consider the suspect as potentially armed and dangerous.
"That's where traffic stops are extremely dangerous because you don't know who you are dealing with," Zamantakis pointed out.
In a second drug-related incident, Officer Archuleta reportedly received a call from an unidentified Helper resident on July 2 at 10:50 p.m. The citizen reported the possible drug use at a residence located near 100 North Main Street.
Archuleta responded to the scene with Officer Trevor Wood and met with Travis Warren, the son of the homeowner.
According to Zamantakis, the police officers detected the suspected smell of marijuana on Warren.
The group of young adults at the residence were gathered together and brought into a common area while Sergeant Ralph Voss was brought in due to the possibility of a search warrant being issued.
Upon arriving at the residence, Zamantakis said Voss asked for consent to search the home, which was granted for the parts of the home in which Warren resided.
Warren also gave up a suspected marijuana pipe and a 357 Ruger revolver to the officers.
In the kitchen area of the residence, a small bag of suspected cocaine was found. Another small bag of the substance was also located in a guitar case at the residence. In total, seven grams of suspected cocaine were found.
A field kit test on the cocaine substance tested positive. The substance is currently being tested at the state crime lab.
Warren claimed ownership of all the controlled substances and was charged with possession of cocaine, a second degree felony, possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor.
The charges had all been enhanced by one degree because the suspected drugs were found with a gun and because the residence was within 1,000 feet of the parkway.