A traffic stop in Iredell County turned into a major drug bust when police pulled 22-year-old James Rossi over for speeding on Interstate 77. The deputies who stopped Rossi claimed to have smelled marijuana coming from the truck during the traffic stop and completed a search of the vehicle.
Inside the truck, deputies reportedly found 3.3 pounds of marijuana and $24,000 cash. Rossi was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and maintaining a drug car. His passenger, 21-year-old Christopher Dubois, was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Dubois was released but Rossi was held on a $10,000 bond.
Police must follow certain procedures when conducting a search after a traffic stop. If those procedures aren't followed, any evidence of criminal activity - like the marijuana and cash that led to the I-77 drug arrest - may be inadmissible to prove drug charges.
The state of North Carolina requires law enforcement agencies to report the number of traffic stops it makes. Since 2010, Iredell County has reported making 1231 searches after a traffic stop. Only one of these searches was completed pursuant to a warrant.
The majority of reported searches - 890 - were completed after the driver gave law enforcement permission to search the vehicle. This is called a consent search. You are under no legal obligation to consent to a search. Often, it will cause more problems than it will solve.
Another 320 searches were conducted because the officer had probable cause to conduct a warrantless search after a traffic stop.
Source: WSOCTV, "Deputies: 3 pounds of high-grade marijuana found during traffic stop," May 10, 2013