Police dog key to $60K meth seizure
Idaho Press Journal, July 15, 2014
IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho State Police dog made its first drug find last week, pointing the way to the location of more than 3 pounds of methamphetamines and three firearms after a traffic stop.
Last Thursday, Idaho State Police Trooper Ken Peeples conducted a routine traffic stop along Interstate 15 near Idaho Falls.
Apollo, an ISP police dog, assisted in locating narcotics found in the vehicle. He is currently the only K9 on this side of the state and is valuable asset to ISP and local law enforcement agencies. The street value of the methamphetamine found is estimated at $60,000.
"Our K9 has provided a very valuable tool not only for Idaho State Police, but for the other agencies in our district here," said ISP Lt. Chris Weadick at a press conference Monday morning at the ISP District VI office in Idaho Falls. "It's another tool for us to be able to apply our look, listen and think philosophy and intercept that criminal activity out there."
During the course of the investigation, more than 3.3 pounds of methamphetamine was found, two semiautomatic handguns and one revolver, a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle.
Kimberly Rose, 18, of Twin Falls and Uriel Ortega, 25, also of Twin Falls were arrested on felony drug trafficking charges and are being held at the Bonneville County Jail.
After the stop, investigators found a previous felony on Ortega's record.
Given the "size and gravity" of this case, ISP is looking to taking the case to the federal level.
"We're in touch with (the Assistant United States Attorneys) office in Pocatello and see if we want to run this federal," Weadick said.
Taking the federal justice route could mean more "serious ramifications" if proven guilty.
Weadick said about 90 percent of methamphetamine in the U.S. comes from south of the U.S./Mexico boarder. Finding it this far north and under guard, concerns law enforcement.
"They all go hand in hand for our criminal activity that we are seeing on the roads. These can become very dangerous situations when you are dealing with this type of criminal element," he said.
Even thought 3 pounds of narcotics seems dwarfed in comparison to some of the larger seizures of 5, 10, and 15, pounds, Weadick said its easy to "lose sight" that 3 pounds of methamphetamine is still a "very large" amount.
"If it has made it up this far into our community 3 pounds is going to be turned into quite a bit more," he said. "Once they cut it and slice it and start to sell, that 3 (pounds) could easily become 6 (pounds), then all of a sudden we have a very large amount on the streets and this is a very large seizure."
Cpl. Vance Cox, who assisted with the traffic stop, said about six years ago was the last time they seized this much meth at one time.
"I knew it was a significant amount of drugs given that we don't often find pounds of methamphetamine," Cpl. Cox said.
Cpl. Cox said the incidents involving drugs and firearms are not only "disturbing" in light of his own and other law enforcement safety, but also for the public at large.
"One of the things that bothers me as a law enforcement officer is that these individuals had weapons right there readily available to them to protect these drugs there were transporting," Cpl. Cox said. "Oftentimes our violent crimes stem from either drug use or the transaction of drug sales. We hate to see anyone injured or killed, and that is what weapons have the potential of doing."
These incidents concern law enforcement because they can “turn in a blink of an eye,” Weadick said. Oftentimes, people trafficking are either in a “fight” or “flight” mode, and troopers and law enforcement must be on alert and ready to act accordingly.