A routine traffic stop initiated by Florida Highway Patrol troopers assigned to the agency’s Criminal Interdiction Unit in Escambia County on July 1 led to the discovery of methamphetamine, crack cocaine and fentanyl according to media reports. A 61-year-old man was taken into custody at the scene in connection with the illegal drugs and transported to the Santa Rosa County Jail. He faces federal drug and weapons charges.
FHP troopers pulled the man’s 2003 Buick sedan over near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Nashville Avenue for an alleged traffic violation. They decided to search both the man and his vehicle after a K9 unit alerted to the presence of narcotics during an air sniff. Troopers say that they found about 56 grams of methamphetamine in the man’s pockets and more than 12 grams of crack cocaine and a small quantity of fentanyl in the car. The discovery of the drugs prompted troopers to contact the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The evidence recovered at the scene of the traffic stop provided police with enough evidence to obtain a warrant to search the man’s Escambia County home. This search allegedly yielded a further 1.1 pounds of methamphetamine, more than a pound of cocaine, about half a pound of heroin and 160 grams of pharmaceuticals. Police also say that they found a loaded handgun that a records check revealed had been reported stolen by a local resident.
The evidence discovered during warrantless searches may be excluded if the police officers involved prolonged traffic stops unreasonably so that police dogs could be summoned to the scene. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this behavior violates rights protected by the Fourth Amendment. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may study law enforcement reports with particular care if their clients face drug charges and K9 units were involved.