June 22–Three semi truck drivers were arrested recently after law enforcement allegedly found drugs in their vehicles while they traveled into Mitchell.
Truck drivers Gary Jones, 61, of Versailles, Missouri; Robert Laurie, 63, of Fenton, Missouri; and Mark Carter, 40, of Shelbyville, Tennessee, were arrested earlier this month and charged with various drug crimes after law enforcement found them transporting methamphetamine and marijuana into Mitchell, court documents state.
On June 10, Mitchell police received 911 calls regarding a red SLB Trucking vehicle that was “all over the road” about 15 miles west of Mitchell and traveling east on Interstate 90.
According to recently obtained court documents, South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper stopped the truck approximately one mile west of town and made contact with the driver, identified as Jones, through the passenger-side window. The officer noticed a torch lighter and clear plastic baggie in the center console, and after he was questioned about it, Jones allegedly grabbed the baggie and attempted to quickly exit the vehicle.
But the trooper “grabbed his arm,” and the officer was given the baggie, which contained approximately 2 to 3 grams of methamphetamine, court documents state.
A search of the vehicle uncovered a bank bag with more methamphetamine, more small baggies, a digital scale, snort tubes and a glass pipe, all of which are typically used in the distribution of methamphetamine, court documents state.
Jones said he was traveling with three other trucks, all of which were planning to meet in Mitchell. Two more trucks were located at the I-90 Travel Center, and a drug dog allegedly detected the presence of narcotics in one of the vehicles, driven by Carter.
A Mitchell police officer located a marijuana bud on the vehicle’s floor, court documents state.
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation then located Laurie in another semi truck at a Mitchell sale barn, where approximately 8 grams of meth was located in his vehicle in the same packaging as the drugs found in Jones’ vehicle, court documents state.
In a phone conversation with The Daily Republic on Thursday, Terry Bittner, owner of SLB Trucking, said Jones was the lone driver employed with his company involved in the arrests, and Jones’ employment was terminated shortly after.
“Anyway you look at it, he’s done. Whatever the law’s got to do with him, just do it,” Bittner said.
Bittner said Department of Transportation officials are inspecting his company’s books. SLB Trucking had two drivers, so Bittner said his routes have been cut in half.
Bittner never suspected Jones was using drugs, but he criticized the widespread meth problem plaguing the country.
“It’s not just this industry. It’s everywhere. Everybody’s on drugs, the way I see it,” Bittner said.
Jones and Laurie were charged with possession of methamphetamine, a Class 5 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine; and possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a radar detector in a commercial vehicle, Class 2 misdemeanors, punishable upon conviction by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Jones was also charged with manufacturing or distributing methamphetamine, a Class 4 felony, punishable upon conviction by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine; and failing to update his log book, a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Carter was charged with possession of 2 ounces of marijuana or less, a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Bond for Jones and Laurie was set at $3,000. Bond for Carter was set at $500. The men are scheduled to appear in court next month.
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