Police K-9 assists officers with meth bust

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ST. GEORGE — A man and woman were arrested in St. George Wednesday after police discovered methamphetamine in their vehicle with the help of a police K-9.

At approximately 8 p.m., St. George Police Officer Doug Iverson conducted a traffic stop on an SUV for not having insurance, Iverson said in probable cause statements supporting the arrests. Iverson approached the car and spoke with the driver, Ivins resident Cory Claunch, and passenger Samantha Garcia, of St. George.

Cory Claunch booking photo posted March 18, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff's Office
Cory Claunch, of Ivins, booking photo posted March 18, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Claunch admitted he did not have insurance, Iverson said in the statement. Claunch also said he was driving on a revoked license. At that time, another officer arrived at the scene with a police K-9 named Rosco.

“He used his K-9 to walk around the vehicle and he indicated on the passenger door where the passenger Samantha Garcia had been sitting,” Iverson said in the statement.

After obtaining permission from Claunch, the statement said, police searched the area near the door but did not find anything. At that time, officers asked Garcia if they could check her purse. Garcia said the officers could if they needed to.

In the purse, according to the statement, police found a clear glass pipe in a small nylon bag. The pipe had white and black burnt residue inside the chamber and the bowl. After Garcia was read her Miranda rights, the statement said, she gave police permission to question her.

“I asked about the black bag and whose methamphetamine was in it,” Iverson said in the statement. “She paused and looked over at Cory, then stated, ‘It’s mine I guess.”’

According to the statement, Iverson then asked Garcia if she was sure it was hers and whether Cory had her put it in her purse when the officer initiated the stop. Garcia shrugged her shoulders and did not answer. She was handcuffed and placed inside a patrol car.

Samantha Garcia booking photo posted March 18, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Iron County Sheriff's Office
Samantha Garcia, of St. George, booking photo posted March 18, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Upon a continued search of the vehicle, the statement said, officers located a paper clip that had been bent straight and appeared to have been used as a cleaner for a drug pipe.

When officers questioned Claunch about whose meth was in the vehicle, he paused and did not answer, the statement said. When asked again, Claunch told officers there shouldn’t be anything inside the vehicle and he was not aware of any meth.

“I asked him about the paper clip with black residue and he stated ‘now that, I know about,’” Iverson said in the statement.

According to the statement, when officers asked what the residue on the paperclip was, Claunch told them it was probably resin from marijuana.

Officers placed Claunch under arrest and transported him and Garcia to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. Once there, the statement said, Iverson once again asked Garcia if the meth was really hers; she started to cry and told officers she did not want to be a snitch.

“I asked her if Cory told her to hold the meth because of the stop and she hung her head started crying very hard and shook her head yes,” Iverson said in the statement. “I asked her if it was his and she shook her head yes.”

According to court documents, Claunch is charged with one third-degree felony for possession of methamphetamine; one class A misdemeanor for possession of marijuana; and one class B misdemeanor each for possession of drug paraphernalia, not having insurance on his vehicle and driving on a revoked license. His bail for release is set at $15,050.

Garcia is charged with one third-degree felony for possession of methamphetamine and one class B misdemeanor for possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court documents. Her bail for release is set at $11,950.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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