A judge has ruled a "no-roadblock roadblock" technique used by the Uintah Basin Narcotics Strike Force to nab motorists carrying drugs, alcohol or other contraband is unconstitutional.
The ruling by 8th District Judge Lynn Payne will essentially force prosecutors to dismiss all charges against a man who police allege stuffed an estimated $4,000 worth of methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine down the pants of a 10-year-old girl in an attempt to conceal the drugs from officers during a traffic stop last Nov. 25 near Ouray.Ken Wallentine, deputy Uintah County attorney, said the only charge they can realistically make stick against Daryl C. Richardson, 38, Vernal, would be a citation for making an improper left turn.
Richardson had been charged with two first-degree felony counts of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor, a second-degree felony count of distribution of drug paraphernalia to a minor, and two third-degree felony counts of failure to affix a drug stamp.
Charges will also likely be dismissed against a woman arrested with Richardson, Elaine Chavez, 37, a former Vernal resident, said Wallentine. The 10-year-old girl was Chavez's daughter.
Richardson was on parole from the Utah State Prison on drug charges at the time of his arrest. He has since been returned to prison.
During a Wednesday hearing, defense attorney Lonnie DeLand successfully sought suppression of evidence obtained by police during the traffic stop and search.
Wallentine said the judge ruled that a police tactic of setting up a sign saying "narcotics roadblock ahead" was deceptive to the public and misrepresented the law and the facts.
Officers would be stationed near the sign and watch for motorists who either attempted to get rid of items by throwing them out the vehicle windows or sped off in the opposite direction. They would then be able to stop the drivers for littering or on a traffic violation.