When it Comes to Running Drugs, Looks Can Be Deceiving

By Calibre Press  |   Feb 2, 2021

A California officer learned first-hand that what that title says is true.

While patrolling a major highway, he noticed a newer model white Ford Thunderbird weaving on to the shoulder. When he stopped the car and made a passenger-side approach, he saw an elderly man who looked to be in poor health in the passenger seat and an elderly woman at the wheel.

“This was a real ma-and-pa type couple,” the officer observed. “They looked like your normal, everyday, down-home husband and wife.”

When the officer asked the 62-year-old woman why she was weaving she told him she didn’t realize she was. As he was giving her a verbal warning, he took the opportunity to ask a few questions and visually scan the inside of the car. When he did, he picked up on some key indicators of potential drug trafficking.

When he asked them where they were headed, the woman said they were coming from Arizona and headed to Washington State. Strange thing was, he didn’t see any luggage or signs of a long road trip. He did notice, however, several air fresheners in the car and he sensed both the driver and the passenger were noticeably nervous. The officer was aware that these could be indicators of possible trafficking, but from the way the couple looked, he still didn’t think they would be transporting drugs.

It was his job to ask if they were, though…and he did.

“I had to force myself to get into investigative mode with these two,” he told Calibre Press. “During the conversation, the woman told him they had been married for more than 40 years. They just didn’t look the type to be hauling drugs, but I knew there really isn’t a ‘type, so I asked lightheartedly, ‘You’re not carrying any large sums of money, weapons or drugs, are you?’

“The woman laughed and said, ‘No, I’ve only got about $20 in my wallet.’ It seemed strange that she would only focus on the money part of the question,” the officer said, “so I asked, ‘What about weapons or drugs?’ ‘No, we’re not carrying any weapons,’ she answered.

Now it was obvious she was dodging the drugs part of the question, so I asked directly, ‘Are you carrying drugs in the car?’ No response. I asked again. Still no response. They just sat quietly and looked straight ahead [another indicator: conspicuously avoiding eye contact]. Then the woman leaned over, hit the trunk release and said, ‘It’s back there.’”

When the officer looked in the trunk, he found several large bundles, some wrapped in clear cellophane and others wrapped in self-adhesive shelf paper. The packages turned out to contain more than 100 pounds of pot. He also found a meager attempt to disguise the odor of that much pot; two deodorized “stick-ups” attached to the underside of the trunk lid.

“She just couldn’t lie to me,” said the officer. “She couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me she wasn’t carrying drugs. I just wonder how many motor homes and other vehicles are out there, filled with drugs, being driven by elderly retired couples that aren’t being noticed or appropriately questioned on traffic stops.”

Turns out the couple had been approached by a drug supplier and asked if they would be willing to transport that load. When the woman asked the supplier if they would get caught, he told her matter-of-factly, “No. It happens all the time and nobody gets caught.”

Not this time.

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