ELKTON — A surveillance operation outside an Elkton motel led to investigators confiscating more than 180 baggies containing suspect heroin mixed with fentanyl — and, or, crack cocaine — and arresting four people, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Investigators also seized several hypodermic needles, marijuana, crack cocaine and $1,717 in cash, court records show.
Cecil County Sheriff’s Office investigators made the arrests at approximately 8 p.m. on June 29, after conducting surveillance outside a Motel 6 off Belle Hill Road near Elkton Road (Route 279), according to a written statement of probable cause submitted by CCSO Deputy Nathan Cryder, lead investigator.
“Deputy Cryder knows through his training, knowledge and experience, the Motel 6 is a high-crime/high drug use area,” he explains in his written report contained in court records.
Cryder followed a silver Hyundai Elantra with Delaware temporary tags, after watching the car pull into the motel parking lot and leave less than five minutes later, police said. The deputy stopped the car on Belle Hill Road near the Sunrise Inn, a short distance away, because the driver allegedly failed to come to a complete stop when exiting the Motel 6 parking lot, police added.
While speaking to the driver, Dante Noel Cooper, 21, of Wilmington, Del., Cryder noticed signs that raised suspicion, court records show.
“(Cooper) was shaking uncontrollably and would not maintain eye contact. Deputy Cryder observed a (woman) in the back seat on the passenger’s side who kept reaching towards a bag located on the floorboard,” court records allege.
While conducting a license and warrant check at his patrol vehicle moments later, he noticed that “the occupants were reaching in the floorboard area of the car,” prompting him to dispatch CCSO Cpl. Joseph Brewer and his specially-trained scent dog, K9 Max, police said.
During a sniff scan outside the Elantra, Max alerted to the presence of illegal drugs, which led to a search of the vehicle, police added.
Investigators found a black book bag on the floorboard of the front passenger’s seat, where a suspect identified as Akeem Jamal Grinnell-Cropper, 30, also of Wilmington, Del., had been seated, according to court records.
Inside that bag, investigators found 162 baggies containing a white powdery substance that was “consistent with the packaging of heroin/fentanyl and, or, crack cocaine” and that it had been parceled into bundles of 13 held together by rubber bands, police reported.
“Deputy Cryder knows a large amount of (illegal drugs) wrapped in separate bundles in a large quantity is indicative of the sale/distribution of (illegal drugs) and not for personal use. Deputy Cryder also located a black cell phone. Deputy Cryder knows that a large quantity of (illegal drugs) in close proximity to a phone is indicative of the sale/distribution of (illegal drugs),” according to charging documents.
While searching a purple bag that a back-seat passenger, Jayonna Nashae Young, 21, address unavailable, had been holding, investigators found a plastic baggie containing approximately three grams of suspect marijuana, court records allege.
In addition, investigators found two plastic baggies containing suspect heroin/fentanyl inside a red purse, which was located on the rear floorboard near the back middle passenger’s seat, where Justice Antonia Hill, 25, of Smyrna, Del., had been seated, police said.
Investigators found Hill’s identification card inside that purse, from which they also confiscated several hypodermic needles, police added.
While searching a green book bag found on the side rear passenger’s floorboard, close to where Jessica Lynn Ranauto, 36, of Bear, Del., had been seated, investigators located seven white wax papers containing suspect heroin/fentanyl, according to charging documents.
Court records also allege that, while a female deputy later strip-searched Ranauto at CCSO’s headquarters, the deputy found 10 clear plastic baggies holding suspect heroin/fentanyl and, wrapped in a brown paper towel, about one gram of crack cocaine, all of which were found inside her pockets.
While conducting a pat-down search of Cooper at the traffic stop scene, Cryder found $1,717 inside his pants pocket and confiscated the cash, police reported.
“Deputy Cryder placed the seized currency in a secure location and requested a K-9 scan. Cpl. Brewer advised that his K-9 partner, Max, yielded a positive alert to the odor of (illegal drugs) in the area where the money was placed,” court records allege.
Cooper and Grinnell-Cropper are each facing seven criminal charges, including four felony counts of possession of a controlled and dangerous substance with intent to distribute, according to court records, which show that Grinnell-Cropper is scheduled for a July 22 preliminary hearing and that Cooper’s is set for July 29.
As of Tuesday, six days after their bail review hearings, they remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond, court records show.
Ranauto and Hill, both of whom were released on personal recognizance, are each facing three misdemeanor drug possession charges, and their trials are set for Aug. 25, according to court records.
Investigators released Young from custody after issuing her a criminal citation for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, court records show.