A 48-year-old California man was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison on July 8 for committing firearm and narcotics crimes. Following a one-day bench trial in March, the San Bernardino County resident, who police say is a member of a notorious Los Angeles street gang, was found guilty of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking activities and possessing a gun while a convicted felon. The judge also ordered that he serve five years of supervised release after completing his custodial sentence.
According to media reports, the man was taken into custody following a routine traffic stop in February. Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department say that they pulled the man's Chevrolet Tahoe over after observing it being driven erratically in the Angelino Heights area. Police claim that the man gave them permission to search his vehicle.
During the ensuing search, police allegedly discovered a black garbage bag on the floor of the vehicle that contained 14 packages wrapped in foil. The packages are said to have contained approximately 13.7 pounds of methamphetamine that could have been sold on the street for between $27,000 and $40,000. When passing sentence, the judge observed that the way the drugs were packaged made it clear they were for sale. Police also allegedly discovered a loaded Smith & Wesson revolver and about $800 in cash.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise individuals pulled over by the police to not consent to a vehicle search. This could be especially true if their car contains items that could lead to serious drug charges and send them to prison for decades. When police obtain warrants for vehicle searches, defense attorneys could question the probable cause supporting the warrant application or the reason for the initial traffic stop.