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Pelion police officer arrest two, find large quantity of drugs & cash during drug interdiction t

Pelion, SC (Paul Kirby) – A Pelion police officer arrested two suspects on a number of traffic and drug related charges Saturday night after he pulled a vehicle over that caught his attention. During the arrest, Officer Bennett found a large quantity of crystal methamphetamine and $14,000 in cash that the suspects had with them.

According to Bennett, he was patrolling the town of Pelion just before 10:00 p.m. Saturday when he noticed a white Chevrolet Tahoe in the parking lot of the Corner Pantry at the intersection of Pine and Main Streets. Something about the vehicle aroused his suspicion so he used his in-car computer to run the vehicle’s tag. It came back registered to a Jeep, not the Chevrolet. When the driver of the Tahoe turned out of the store’s parking lot onto Pine Street, Bennett activated his cruiser’s warning devices and stopped the SUV in front of Pelion Elementary School.

Once stopped, Bennett approached the vehicle and made contact with the white male that was driving. The man quickly admitted that he had swapped the tag on the Tahoe with one from another vehicle. He also readily admitted his driver’s license wasn’t valid. Bennett ran a record check on him and found he was driving under suspension.

Officer Bennett said within a few minutes of stopping the Tahoe, a Jeep pulled up and a woman got out. Bennett asked who she was, and she identified herself as the Tahoe driver’s girlfriend. The police officer allowed the female to stay on scene only because he had decided to tow and impound the Tahoe for the discrepancy with its tag. At this point, Bennett planned to cite the driver of the SUV but allow him to go home with his girlfriend.

Bennett began doing a tow inventory of the vehicle while the man and woman started moving things from the Tahoe to the Jeep. These inventories are standard when any vehicle is towed for a violation. They provide a detailed list of what was in a vehicle before it was towed and acts as a receipt of those items for the vehicle's owner when they go to claim it.

When Officer Bennett opened the door of the SUV, he immediately noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside. There was also paraphernalia and a small quantity of weed in plain sight. This established probable cause for Bennett to search further.

Gaston Police Department’s Sgt. Marzol responded to provide Bennett with backup as he searched the Tahoe. He also planned to search the items the couple had moved from the Tahoe to the Jeep. The female showed him what items they had moved, and Bennett’s experience told him that a black backpack in those transferred items was a good place to start. Officer Bennett opened the bag and immediately found a large quantity of what he believed was crystal methamphetamine inside. Once that was located, he and Sgt. Marzol immediately detained both the man and woman and read them their rights.

Sgt. Marzol began searching the Jeep at that point because the drugs had been in it. Under the driver’s seat, he found a wallet that contained a large amount of cash. It was in denominations that are often used to transact drug sales, according to Bennett. There were also some pills inside the Jeep that were listed as Schedule 2 drugs. The officers placed both the man and his girlfriend under arrest, and both were transported to Lexington County Detention Center.

Police says that the couple are identified as Joseph W Peterson, 37, and Angela Wood, 45, both of Pelion. They have been charged with trafficking crystal meth over 400 grams. Peterson was also charged with driving under suspension, several traffic violations, and simple possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He is being held at the Lexington County Detention Center on a $52,000 bond. Wood was further charged with possession of a Schedule 2 controlled substance in addition to driving under suspension as well. It appears as if she had bonded out of the jail by Monday, September 7, 2020.

Two pounds of crystal meth was seized as a result of this traffic stop. The cash seized totaled $14,000.

This stop was a part of Pelion Police Chief Mike Crider’s efforts to have Pelion patrolled by experienced officers well trained in drug interdiction. Officer Bennett has over 16 years of experience in law enforcement. Lt. Rebojl and Officer Glenn both have many years of service between them also.

Officer Bennett said that he appreciated the assistance from Sgt. Marzol of the Gaston PD. The small departments in southern Lexington County work closely with each other and as always, that assistance was invaluable.

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