ST. GEORGE — A Santa Clara man was taken into police custody Thursday after officers discovered heroin and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle with the assistance of a police K-9 officer.
At approximately 9:10 p.m., according to a probable cause statement filed by the St. George Police Department in support of the arrest, a St. George police officer initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle near 300 W. St. George Boulevard for an improper lane change and for having a brake light out.
After approaching the car, the statement said, the officer spoke with the driver, 25-year-old James Coon.
“While talking with him about the stop,” the arresting officer said in the statement, “James reached into his left pocket and I observed in plain view of piece of tin foil.”
The officer requested another unit to assist him on scene, the statement said, and then asked Coon to step out of the car because his speech seemed slow and slurred and his voice sounded hoarse.
According to the statement, the officer also informed Coon that he had seen what appeared to be drug paraphernalia inside his pocket.
“I asked him if it would be ok for me to check his pockets and he stated ‘search away, I have nothing on me,’” the officer said in the statement. “I located the tinfoil, but did not observe any residue.”
However, once another unit and police K-9 Rossko arrived on scene, the statement said, officers discovered additional signs of drug activity when Rossko indicated on the passenger side door of the vehicle.
After further searching the vehicle, the statement said, police found two straws in the center console that were melted on one end and contained a burnt residue. They also discovered a white piece of plastic — that appeared to have been used to store heroin — on the curb next to the gutter.
“Both the plastic and the tutor straws were NIK (narcotic identification kit) tested on site,” the officer said in the statement, “and indicated a positive result for opiates.”
Upon speaking with the passenger, the statement said, the passenger said Coon had given him the piece of plastic and asked him to hold it. The passenger also said he had then placed the plastic on the curb because he did not want to be charged for something that was not his.
When police spoke with Coon about the plastic, the statement said, he corroborated what his passenger had said.
“… He stated that he did hand him the plastic because he didn’t want it to look shady,” the officer said in the statement.
According to the statement, the passenger also said he believed that Coon had recently smoked heroin, and that it was his drug of choice.
Coon previously pleaded guilty to second-degree felony drug distribution in 2012, according to Utah court records, and is currently involved in two other ongoing court cases where he is charged with possession of a controlled substance. Because of his previous conviction, the drug charges in this incident were enhanced by one degree.
Police arrested Coon and transported him to Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility where he is being held. Bail for his release is scheduled at $5,000. He is charged with one second-degree felony for possession of heroin, one class A misdemeanor for tampering with evidence, one class B misdemeanor for possession of drug paraphernalia, and two infractions for failure to stay in one lane and not having all the required brake lights.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2015.
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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