Drug bust on I-70: The dos and don'ts of transporting meth

We realize that the average consumer of methamphetamine is ill-suited to traveling Colorado's mountain roads. If said motorist had half a brain left, he or she wouldn't be smoking meth. Yet a recent bust of one dope-toting couple on I-70 was so ridiculously easy that it should be studied by tweakers everywhere as a case study in what not to do.

According to this blow-by-blow article in the Summit Daily News, a local sheriff's deputy spotted a disabled car on the side of the highway and pulled over to help. The couple told the deputy that they were on vacation and had broken an axle on their way to Denver.

Two lessons here. Obviously, don't drive piece-of-shit cars that break down and attract attention. Just as obviously, don't make up some stupid, unbelievable and convoluted story, like going to Denver for a vacation. Who the hell does that?

The driver's insurance card was expired. "I don't have insurance," he told the cop.

Nonononono. Flat statements like that suggest an inclination to rebel against society's rules. Do inject a little humor in the proceedings, a common bond of absurdity. Example: "Look at this piece-of-shit car, officer. If this was your ride, would you have insurance?"

There were some problems with the tags, too. (Do keep your registration tidy.) But the big uh-oh came when the deputy ran the plate and found an outstanding drug warrant from another state. The man "told him it was for not completing a drug class and said there was nothing illegal in the car."

Jeez, that's almost as good as saying, "The trunk? Why would you want to search the trunk? There's no mutilated corpse in there!"

At this point it's very important that you do not lie. Instead, you should assume your blankest, most guileless expression, roll your eyes back in your head, and launch head-first into a grand mal seizure. The deputy will be so preoccupied with keeping you from swallowing your tongue and flopping into traffic that he will forget all about that silly warrant.

In this case, alas, the deputy put the pair into the back of his patrol car and then checked out their vehicle. He immediately spotted a pipe filled with white residue wrapped in a blue towel. Asked about the pipe, the man said "he and his girlfriend used to smoke meth, but stopped several months before... he must have forgotten about the pipe being in the car."

Okay, class, what's the big oops here? That's right. If you must leave your pipe in plain sight in your broken-down vehicle while waiting for Johnny Law to show up, keep it in a red towel. That way, you can say it's a novelty souvenir from a CU-Nebraska game, and no wonder you forgot all about it.

A more extensive search, using a drug-sniffing dog, came up with another makeshift pipe, six plastic baggies with white residue, and a brown rock. The man said he thought the rock was hash and was given to him by a friend. The woman suggested all the contraband was "community property."

Okay, this is just criminally stupid. Don't be vague. Don't try to shift the blame or hog the credit. Do be humble and forthright, as in, "We're not sure whether that rock is good shit or not. We're not even sure if it's from this planet. We found it behind our trailer after a meteor shower, glowing in the dark, and we believe it belongs to God."

The suspects were booked on several charges, including drug possession and lack of insurance. Don't let this happen to you.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Comic books like these great for meth-profits laundering."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast