A Virginia Beach resident was recently charged with five felony drug charges after an officer located an alleged marijuana-growing operation.
The officer reportedly smelled marijuana as he was driving earlier this year. After canvassing the area, he found that the odor was coming from a nearby storage facility. Police staked out the facility, and spotted the man leaving one of the storage units two days later. After he drove away, he was stopped by officers for speeding. Officers reportedly smelled marijuana and then searched the vehicle. No drugs or contraband were found inside. No speeding ticket was issued as a result of the stop.
Police then contacted the manager of the storage facility and were permitted to enter some of the vacant units. After determining which two units the smell of marijuana was coming from, police obtained search warrants to inspect those units, both owned by the man.
Their search turned up what appeared to be marijuana plants, cocaine, over $90,000 in cash and other items.The 32-year-old man is facing serious charges including possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Prosecutors dropped the charges in Virginia Beach General District Court in order to pursue a federal case.
In some circumstances, police may conduct a search of a vehicle after stopping the driver for other reasons. It is unclear how often this happens, but there have been multiple incidents in Virginia involving traffic stops and drugs over the past few years. A judge will typically determine if the stop was legal. If the stop is determined to be illegal, the charges against the driver or passenger may be dropped.
Source: Pilot Online, “Virginia Beach cop used his nose to locate marijuana grow operation,” Scott Daugherty, Aug. 8, 2015