Almost 50 pounds of cocaine and three pounds of fentanyl was seized from a 2017 Tahoe as it crossed into Maryland in late February 2020. The vehicle was pulled over for a routine traffic stop when police officers noted that the vehicle’s tint was too dark.
Upon pulling over the vehicle, the police approached the driver; no one else was in the vehicle at the time of the stop. The man driving the vehicle appeared to be trembling, was breathing heavily and seemed to be nervous. Officers also thought they smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. Another police officer with a K-9 partner approached the vehicle some time after the first officer made the traffic stop. The dog alerted the officers to the presence of drugs in the SUV.
Two large boxes were found in the back of the vehicle. Each had several vacuum-sealed bags that were believed to contain fentanyl and cocaine. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is often used to increase the potency of heroin. After finding the drugs, police detained the 41-year-old man and brought him to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center.
Though homes and businesses need warrants before they are searched, vehicles do not. The law requires only that the officer has enough probable cause to search a vehicle. Any drugs or drug paraphernalia found in the vehicle might be used to prosecute those accused of a drug violations. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not have enough evidence to pursue the case. It’s important that the police don’t overstep onto the Constitutional rights of an individual during these searches. In this case, police searched the vehicle because they thought the man was acting odd and thought they might have smelled marijuana. This may not be enough probable cause. If a judge decides that the vehicle should not have been searched, the evidence would be inadmissible. The case may then be dismissed.