Three people were arrested early Monday morning and charged with numerous criminal drug charges. The Norristown Police Department made the arrests after observing their vehicle parked on a block on March Alley that is renowned for high levels of crime and drug trafficking. A 31-year-old Norristown woman, a 31-year-old King of Prussia woman, and a 43-year-old Philadelphia man were charged with several counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, giving false identification, drug possession with intent to distribute and deliver, and probation violations.
According to the police report, the defendants gave false names to the police upon questioning, were inconsistent with their reasons for being in the area, and disagreed on who the car and its contents belonged. Upon receiving permission to search the car the officers found several items including needles, candles, lighters, straws, razors, spoons and a phone with text messages relating to crack dealing. Further questioning caused one of the women to discreetly inform police that they should also check the gas tank. There they found a bag containing several layers of baggies with 18 grams of crack cocaine.
The man apparently had used several aliases in the past and was already on probation for a long criminal record dating back to 1999. He is being held on $25,000 bail.
This sounds like a three-ring circus. All three of the people involved were pointing a finger at the other. In fact, when the woman told police about the bag of drugs in the gas tank, she told them to search it when the Philadelphia man wasn't looking.
The police approached and questioned the three defendants at two different times that night/early morning after observing the parked car from a distance. Is that enough of an articulable suspicion to request a search of the car? Police are not allowed to search your vehicle without your permission or a search warrant obtained by a judge.
Source: Norristown.patch.com, "Drug Dealer Hides Stash in Gas Tank," James Myers, May 14, 2012