VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) — A traffic stop led Evansville police detectives to seize nearly a pound of methamphetamine in addition to marijuana and a handgun.
The two suspects, 19-year-old Chelsie Fraley and 30-year-old Marquist Northington, are in the Vanderburgh County Detention Center facing multiple felony charges. According to the probable cause affidavit, Northington told detectives that he has made several drug deliveries in Evansville before.
According to police, the duo was stopped on I-69 on Monday for speeding. After reportedly smelling marijuana coming from inside the car, officers called in a police K-9 who reportedly had a ‘positive’ hit on the car. Upon searching the vehicle, authorities reportedly discovered 450 grams of methamphetamine that had been organized and wrapped in plastic baggies.
Northington reportedly told detectives that he had made several trips to Evansville in order to deliver drugs in the past. Fraley stated that she didn’t know why the two were making a trip to Evansville, according to police.
Police also discovered a loaded revolver in the vehicle, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Sgt. Jason Cullum said this case is a prime example of how drug peddlers use the highway and interstate system to traffic drugs.
“You can get to any of the large cities north, south, east and west of Evansville for a weekend and have a nice getaway,” Sgt. Cullum said. “The downside of that is all of those cities and the illicit drug trade that [those cities] have can get here just as easily.”
While the number of meth lab incidents continues to be on the decline in Evansville, the general problem of meth hasn’t wavered. For many years, meth manufacturers would make the illicit drug using the ‘shake-and-bake’ method using products that are readily accessible over the counter. However, those types of meth labs have been greatly reduced due to more restrictive laws regarding the purchase of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in meth production.
The changes in state law have created a void for those addicted to meth. In the past couple of years, authorities have noticed a resurgence of crystal meth, which is typically made in Mexico and other South American countries.
“Our community has a dependency on methamphetamine. [People] still use a lot of methamphetamine,” said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. “It’s just that it’s coming in large quantities like the bust (Monday.)”
Sgt. Cullum said with the proliferation of crystal meth, it places a greater importance on cooperation between different law enforcement agencies, including the sharing of intelligence.
“The people that are trying to capitalize on other people’s misery follow the news stories. They see the increases in the drug-related crimes here in Evansville,” Sgt. Cullum said. “They’re going to take advantage of that situation.”
Drug traffickers are also taking advantage of interstates and other major shipping routes, authorities said. That includes I-69.
“It’s obviously a great road. Anybody that has driven from here to Bloomington and can remember what it was like before knows what an improvement it is,” Hermann said. “But it does create more access points.”