Virginia State Police troopers took two men into custody on the morning of Oct. 15 after discovering almost 600 pounds of marijuana in the van they were traveling in. The 26-year-old driver of the van and his unidentified male passenger have been charged with drug possession and drug possession with the intent to distribute. A VSP representative said that the drug seizure could be the largest ever recorded in the area.
Troopers pulled the van over on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Richmond County shortly after 1:00 a.m. after observing failing to signal before changing lanes. The troopers say they determined that the vehicle had been rented while they followed it for approximately two miles. During the ensuing traffic stop, troopers say the behavior of the van’s occupants caused them to become suspicious. However, initial reports do not reveal what the two men are alleged to have done to warrant closer scrutiny.
A K-9 unit was then called to the scene and a search was ordered after the dog allegedly alerted to the presence of illegal drugs. During the search, troopers say they found about 580 pounds of marijuana in the van’s cargo hold. The marijuana was referred to as high grade by police officials, which reports suggest would make it worth as much as $4,000 per pound if sold on the street.
Individuals who face marijuana possession charges because police discovered illegal narcotics in their vehicles may be wise to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any statements as evidence discovered during warrantless searches may be ruled inadmissible. Police must have probable cause to search a vehicle, and they are not permitted to extend traffic stops unreasonably to summon K-9 units to the scene. This is also why attorneys could advise road users to refuse any police requests to search their vehicles without a warrant.