By CHERIL VERNON
A series of traffic stops by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office led to five drug arrests over the weekend.
At 12:50 a.m. Saturday, ACSO Deputy Johnny Gordon was driving down Palestine Avenue when he saw the driver of a white Ford Ranger pickup truck he recognized as not having a driver’s license.
The 32-year-old white male was subsequently arrested in the parking lot of Town & Country Motel and charged with a misdemeanor of driving with license invalid and placed in jail.
“While they were arresting him, he asked if he could give his truck keys to his girlfriend who was in the motel room,” ACSO Sheriff Greg Taylor said. “The deputies knocked on the door of the motel room and saw narcotics in plain sight.”
After receiving consent to search the room, deputies arrested two Palestine females — Lisa Raye Harmon, 42, and Leah Mashell Campbell, 21, each charged with possession of a controlled substance penalty group 1 (4 to 200 grams).
Harmon was found in possession of a pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine with a small amount of methamphetamine inside. Deputies also found two small plastic baggies.
Harmon was arraigned on a $100,000 bond by Justice of Peace Precinct 3 James Todd as well as an additional bond for possession of drug paraphernalia. The suspect also had two theft by check warrants with a bond set a $1,500 each.
Campbell was arrested and received a $10,000 bond on the possession charge and $500 fine for drug paraphernalia (smoking pipe).
“You never know what you are going to get when you do traffic stops,” Taylor said. “The deputies know the criminals and unfortunately stop them over and over and over. It’s a good thing they know them because they continue to offend.”
At 4:12 p.m. Saturday, ACSO deputies Wes Dean and Don Myers responded to a call to check on the welfare of small children at a residence on U.S. 84 East.
“While they were checking on the children, there was a vehicle in the driveway with two young ladies in it. The deputies began talking to them because they didn’t know if they were involved with the welfare of the children or not,” Taylor said.
While talking to the driver, Ashley Nicole Butler, 28, of Palestine, the deputies saw several plastic baggies — some with a crystal-like substance in it. They also found a syringe with liquid in it in the middle of the seat of the pickup, which field-tested positive for methamphetamine, Taylor said.
Butler was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance penalty group 1 (4 to 200 grams). Todd set a $10,000 bond for that particular charge.
“When she got out of the truck, she attempted to hide something by dropping it and kicking it under the truck — another baggie,” Taylor said.
For that offense, Butler received a tampering with evidence charge — which added a $10,000 bond. She also received a $400 fine for drug paraphernalia and was still in jail Monday.
The children the deputies were originally sent to check on at the scene were OK.
At 11:50 p.m. Friday, ASCO Deputy Johnny Gordon stopped a Mercury Grand Marquis on U.S. 287 South after recognizing the driver, Brittany Arnisah Tillis, 25, of Palestine, as not having a driver’s license.
“When making the traffic stop and checking her for warrants, a cigarette box with marijuana inside it was found,” Taylor said. “Then when they got her to jail, we found a pipe used to commonly smoke meth secreted in her bra with a crystal substance in it.
“We always pat search everybody that’s going to jail and we tell them that if we find anything else secreted or that they are trying to hide it in jail they will get another charge.”
Tillis received a $10,000 bond from Todd for possession of a controlled substance penalty group 1 (4 to 200 grams), as well as another $10,000 bond for prohibited substance in a correctional facility. She also received a $2,500 bond for possession of marijuana under 2 grams and a $367 fine for driving with license invalid.
At 8:50 a.m. Friday, ACSO Sgt. Brian Chason was patrolling on East Palestine Avenue when he observed a gold Cadillac and recognized the driver to have warrants, initiating a traffic stop in the Express Inn parking lot.
The driver, Johnathan Ray Bass, 23, of Palestine, was arrested for the warrants. The original warrant charge was harassment but he also had a violation of probation and theft by check warrants. No bond was set for Bass.
“During the stop, they took the subject out, confirmed the warrants and arrested him,” Taylor said.
While talking to the passenger Jessica Leigh Jones, 31, of Neches, Chason observed in the floorboard in plain sight a small clear baggie commonly used for narcotics that field tested positive for methamphetamine.
Officers also found a yellow baggie with two smaller bags inside with a crystal substance that also field tested positive for methamphetamine (half a gram in each one of the baggies), according to Taylor.
Jones was charged with possession of a controlled substance penalty group 1 (4 to 200 grams) and received a $10,000 bond.