Police: St. Croix man stopped for not wearing seat belt found with marijuana, stolen property
Published: September 7, 2013
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ST. CROIX - A routine traffic stop Thursday afternoon resulted in a quick arrest and the recovery of stolen property.
Pedro Lopez of Estate William was arrested after police officers on Queen Street in Frederiksted saw him driving a tan truck with a broken windshield and noticed he was not wearing a seat belt.
Officer Luis Amaro said he and his partner stopped the truck, and as they approached the vehicle they smelled a strong scent of marijuana coming from it.
Amaro asked Lopez if there was anything in the truck that the officers needed to know about and he said there was only a few marijuana cigarette butts.
After Lopez consented to a search of the vehicle, Amaro said police found five small bags and two small vials of marijuana and two cellular phones under his seat and an additional phone on his passenger seat. He told police all the phones belonged to him, according to the report.
Officers also found $140 under the rug and a blue and gray backpack in the truck's bed, according to police.
Lopez was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and when he was searched police said they found $653 and a knife. The weapon and cash were turned over to forensic and property officers for safe keeping and his car was impounded.
Police officer David Wyrzykowski said in a separate report that he and his partner were first called to collect the marijuana found in Lopez' truck and they were later dispatched to the Vincent Mason Pool in Frederiksted where individuals reported their car had been broken into as they were taking a walk along the beach.
Wyrzykowsi said in taking the theft report, the women said two cellular phones, about $400 in cash and a blue and gray backpack were stolen from the vehicle.
Police believe the two phones and the bag found in Lopez truck are the same items stolen from the people at the pool, according to the report.
Subsequently, Lopez was rearrested and now faces the additional charges of grand larceny, tampering and damage to a vehicle and possession of stolen property.
He appeared before Magistrate Jessica Gallivan on Thursday morning and was advised of his rights in both cases.
Gallivan, however, said the quantity of marijuana found in Lopez' car was sufficient only for her to find probable cause for the arrest on a charge of simple possession of a controlled substance, and downgraded that charge.
She set bail at $1,000 in that case and set bail at $35,000 on the grand larceny and related charges.
Assistant Public Defender Kwame Montilewa told the court that Lopez is indigent and would not be able to afford even 10 percent of the bail. He asked that he be allowed released to a third-party custodian, sign an unsecured bond in the amount of bail and be placed on a curfew without the use of an electronic monitoring device.
Assistant Attorney General Kippy Roberson disagreed saying he has examined Lopez' history of arrests, primarily on property crimes, which spans almost 25 years.
"He has been a continuous plague on the people," Roberson said. "I don't know that there is anything that can be done to keep the people safe from him."
Gallivan said she was inclined to agree with the prosecution that Lopez has been a constant threat to the community.
According to court documents, Lopez has been arrested 14 times in the last 25 years and has spent at least 15 years of that time in prison on various convictions including burglary, grand larceny, drug possession, robbery, vehicle tampering, possession of stolen property and assault.
Gallivan ordered that Lopez will have to post the full amount of the $35,000 bail. She said he would also need a third-party custodian and will be placed on 24-hour house arrest with the use of an electronic monitoring device.
Unable to meet those conditions, Lopez remains jailed.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.