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Traffic stop turns into pursuit, drug arrests

A 24-year-old Crookston woman and a 38-year-old Bemidji man each face two felony drug charges after being pulled over Thursday afternoon near Motley.

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A 24-year-old Crookston woman and a 38-year-old Bemidji man each face two felony drug charges after being pulled over Thursday afternoon near Motley.

In a complaint filed by the Cass County Attorney's Office, around 2 p.m. Thursday, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper traveling on Highway 210 toward Highway 64 saw a passenger car with a broken license plate light turn onto Highway 64. He determined the vehicle was speeding as well as drifting to the right and crossing the fog line, so he performed a traffic stop on the vehicle.

The vehicle did not immediately stop after the trooper turned on his emergency lights, but instead began to coast and was slow to stop. The trooper saw the front male passenger making furtive movements toward the center console of the vehicle. The vehicle ultimately pulled to the right shoulder and stopped while the trooper continued to observe the male making furtive movements.

The trooper approached the vehicle and made contact with the driver, Ashley Ann Thomas, 24, Crookston, and passenger, Billy Dale Vincent, 38, Bemidji. The trooper noticed both Thomas and Vincent had dilated pupils and suspected they were under the influence of a stimulant.

Thomas said the vehicle belonged to a friend of hers and they were coming from the Twin Cities. The trooper noted the two displayed signs of extreme nervousness and avoided eye contact. Thomas was unable to sit still and constantly moved her hands and her body in her seat.

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Vincent had been a passenger in a traffic stop the trooper had conducted about a month ago. In that stop, drug paraphernalia, needles and digital scales had been recovered.

After running the driver's license information through his computer, the trooper returned to the vehicle and asked Thomas to exit the vehicle. She said she did not want to exit the vehicle because it was cold.

Both Vincent and Thomas began to reach for a backpack in the backseat of the vehicle, which the trooper told them to stop.

Thomas then suddenly grabbed the shifter putting the car into drive and accelerated. The trooper told Thomas to stop the car and had to sidestep to avoid getting hit by the vehicle. He ran back to his patrol car and began pursuing the vehicle, catching up to it after about 3 miles.

The vehicle suddenly pulled over near County Road 34, stopping in the right lane of traffic as Thomas began to exit. The trooper exited his vehicle and held both Thomas and Vincent at gunpoint, telling them to show their hands, exit the vehicle and sit on the ground.

The trooper handcuffed and searched both Thomas and Vincent. He recovered a large amount of cash from Vincent, which he claimed was left over after paying for an alleged abortion.

The trooper began conducting a search of the vehicle and noticed the black backpack was missing, while also finding an empty drug baggie and marijuana grinder.

The black backpack had been thrown from the vehicle during the chase and was found by a citizen who brought it to the traffic stop. Inside the backpack the trooper found 10.8 grams of methamphetamine, 0.4 grams of heroin and 14 grams of marijuana. He also found new and used hypodermic needles, a digital scale, multiple methamphetamine and marijuana pipes and plastic bags commonly used for drug sales.

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During the arrest and while being booked in Crow Wing County Jail, Thomas said multiple times the drugs belonged to Vincent and he had told her to flee in the vehicle.

During a statement, Thomas admitted making the trip with Vincent to the Minneapolis area to purchase drugs to bring back to Bemidji. She said Vincent had told her to conceal the drugs on her person during the traffic stop and the black backpack belonged to Vincent. She admitted to being on probation for controlled substance sales and Vincent was out on bond for additional crimes.

Thomas was charged with felony second-degree sale of one or more mixtures of a total weight of more than 3 grams containing cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. She was also charged with felony fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle.

Vincent was charged with felony second-degree sale of one or more mixtures of a total weight of more than 3 grams containing cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. He was also charged with felony fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.

Minnesota court records show only minor traffic-related convictions in Thomas's past. She received a stay of adjudication for fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance in 2014.

Minnesota court records show Vincent has several criminal convictions in his past. Among those, he was convicted of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance in Beltrami County in 1996, 2004 and 2011. He was also convicted of first-degree sale of a controlled substance in Beltrami County in 2005.

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA STATE PATROL
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