Crime

NORTH EAST - A Cecil County man is facing several drug charges after an officer working a "special assignment" caught him with nearly 140 baggies of suspect heroin, a small amount of suspect crack cocaine and other evidence during a New Year's Day traffic stop in North East, according to court records.

Investigators identified the suspect as James Joseph Thompson, 27, of the 500 block of Middle Road, north of Elkton.

Thompson was a front-seat passenger in a Honda Civic that Pfc. Christopher Jones of the North East Police Department stopped in the 200 block of Mechanics Valley Road at approximately 11:45 p.m. on Friday, while working a special assignment in which he was observing motorists traveling in a "known drug market" and making traffic stops when warranted, police said.

The special assignment related to a specific residence in the 200 block of Howard Street, a short distance from where the traffic stop occurred, police added.

"Over the past year, the North East Police Department has received large amounts of complaints pertaining to the foot and vehicle traffic coming in and out of 201 Howard St. NEPD had taken numerous calls in reference to found drug paraphernalia on the ground, disturbance calls, overdose calls, etc., all of these incidents having some type of relation with 201 Howard St. Along with the complaints and calls for service, there have been numerous traffic stops conducted on vehicles leaving 201 Howard St. that have resulted in CDS (drug) arrests," Jones outlines in his written statement of probable cause.

The officer stopped the Honda because, in part, the car had an out-of-state license plate and it was traveling in a "known drug market" late at night, according to charging documents, which also indicate that the looping route that the Honda driver chose to enter and exit Howard Street raised Jones' suspicion.

Raising even more suspicion, when the officer asked the driver and Thompson why they were on Howard Street, Thompson replied that they were going to see a man who lives at 201 Howard St., identifying that person by name, police said.

As it turned out, police added, Jones was familiar with the man whom Thompson identified as a resident of 201 Howard St. because the officer had arrested that man on Nov. 21 during a traffic stop in which he had confiscated suspect heroin from him, police added.

In addition, Jones was familiar with Thompson because he had handled "other drug-related cases with Thompson," police reported.

The officer dispatched a K-9 unit, in preparation for a sniff scan of the Honda by a specially trained scent dog, and then he detained the driver and Thompson outside the vehicle, court records show.

"As soon as Pfc. Jones placed Thompson in handcuffs, Thompson looked at him and stated, 'I have dope, man'," court records allege.

Thompson told the officer that the suspect drugs were inside his left jacket pocket, spurring a search in which Jones found 10 bundles holding 139 baggies of suspect heroin, police said, adding that each baggie was marked by a "Pit Bull" street brand stamp.

The officer also found and seized a small plastic baggie holding suspect crack cocaine, one hypodermic syringe "used to inject suspect heroin," two glass pipes used to smoke suspect cocaine or methamphetamine, $212 and a cell phone, court records allege.

Thompson was arrested at the traffic stop scene, police reported. Court records indicate that the driver, who is not identified in charging documents, was not charged.

Scheduled for a Jan. 29 preliminary hearing, Thompson is facing five drug charges, including possession of heroin with intent to distribute, which is the only felony filed against him, court records show.

Thompson remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond on Monday morning, before his bail review hearing later that day, according to court records.

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