Judge re­leases two men ac­cused of co­caine traf­fick­ing

Texarkana Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn LaRowe

Two Som­er­set, Ky., men ac­cused of pos­sess­ing about 125 pounds of co­caine at the time of a traf­fic stop last month in Hemp­stead County, Ark., will re­main free while their cases pro­ceed, a fed­eral judge ruled Fri­day.

John­nie Adams, 37, and Cur­tis Trox­tle, 33, ap­peared Fri­day morn­ing for de­ten­tion hear­ings be­fore U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge Barry Bryant in Texarkana’s down­town fed­eral court­house.

Both men are named in a crim­i­nal com­plaint pend­ing in the Texarkana Divi­sion of the West­ern Dis­trict of Arkansas.

At a joint de­ten­tion for the two de­fen­dants Fri­day morn­ing, Texarkana lawyer Cory Floyd called Trox­tle’s fi­ance to tes­tify. Kirsten Raisor de­scribed her fu­ture spouse as a lov­ing fa­ther and hard worker, tout­ing his 14-year stretch of em­ploy­ment with U.P.S. Raisor de­nied any knowl­edge of Trox­tle’s and Adams’ al­leged drug traf­fick­ing, un­der cross ex­am­i­na­tion by As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Gra­ham Jones. Other mem­bers of Trox­tle’s fam­ily au­di­bly sobbed dur­ing the

hear­ing. Mem­bers of John­nie Adams’ fam­ily were present in court as well and gave tes­ti­mony un­der ques­tion­ing by Lit­tle Rock lawyer John Wes­ley Hall. John­nie Adams’ wife, Beth Adams, tes­ti­fied that she was unaware that her hus­band of 13 years was us­ing his pri­vate plane to ferry drugs from south Texas to Michi­gan, as he is ac­cused of do­ing on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

John­nie Adams’ mother, Kim Adams, tes­ti­fied that her son is pop­u­lar in their com­mu­nity of ap­prox­i­mately 11,000, that he owns and op­er­ates a busi­ness in­stalling cab­i­nets and gran­ite coun­ters.

In clos­ing re­marks at the hear­ing, Floyd em­pha­sized Trox­tle’s life-long sta­tus as a res­i­dent of Som­er­set, his lack of prior felony con­vic­tions and his com­pli­ance with a Ken­tucky court tasked with ad­dress­ing a past driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated ar­rest. Hall too fo­cused on Adams’ deep ties to Som­er­set, his sta­tus as a small busi­ness owner/em­ployer and will­ing­ness to sur­ren­der his pi­lot’s li­cense and pass­port.

Jones re­minded the court that the charges fac­ing the men “are not your aver­age drug case,” as he spoke of the 56 ki­los of co­caine re­trieved from a rented SUV as it passed Oct. 29 through Hemp­stead County, Ark. Jones lamented that the ab­sence of prior felony con­vic­tions for the men sim­ply shows “they’ve never been caught be­fore,” and de­scribed them as “ex­pe­ri­enced drug traf­fick­ers.”

Jones ar­gued that clas­si­fy­ing the men’s al­leged con­duct as a “mis­take” as their fam­ily mem­bers did over­looks the planned and cal­cu­lated na­ture of the al­leged con­duct. Jones said it is likely the men will be in­dicted for an of­fense for which there is a manda­tory min­i­mum 10-year prison term.

Ul­ti­mately Bryant granted both men re­lease. They will be su­per­vised by U.S. Pro­ba­tion of­fi­cials based in Lon­don, Ky., a town about half an hour from Som­er­set. Each man must wear a GPS leg mon­i­tor and re­stric­tions on their travel were im­posed. Adams was warned not to fly an air­craft while his case is pend­ing and the co-de­fen­dants were told they may not have con­tact with one an­other.

The men were rid­ing in a rented Ford Ex­plorer when stopped by Arkansas State Po­lice Trooper Bernard Pet­tit for fol­low­ing too closely be­hind an 18-wheeler in the east­bound lane of In­ter­state 30 about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29 near the 26 mile marker, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint used to cre­ate the fol­low­ing ac­count.

Adams was rid­ing in the pas­sen­ger seat and showed Pet­tit a copy of a car rental con­tract on his phone that showed he had rented the Ex­plorer ear­lier that day in Alexan­dria, La.

While both men al­legedly claimed their trip was al­tered by Adams’ pri­vate plane break­ing down in Louisiana, the men gave dif­fer­ent ac­counts of their travel. Trox­tle al­legedly told Pet­tit that the men had flown to­gether in Adams’ pri­vate plane from their home state of Ken­tucky to va­ca­tion in Cor­pus Christi, Texas, be­fore break­ing down in Louisiana. Adams al­legedly claimed the men had flown from Ken­tucky to Shreve­port, La. for va­ca­tion, and had never stopped in Texas, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

The con­flict­ing ac­counts led Pet­tit to ask Adams for per­mis­sion to search the Ex­plorer, which Adams de­clined to give. A Ne­vada County, Ark., Sher­iff’s Of­fice ca­nine alerted to the odor of nar­cotics com­ing from the car while per­form­ing a free air search. Af­ter Pet­tit in­formed the men that the dog’s be­hav­ior gave them the prob­a­ble cause needed to search the Ex­plorer, Adams al­legedly said, “We are mules and the car is loaded,” ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

A black hard-backed suit­case con­tain­ing 32 pack­ages of sus­pected co­caine was found along with a Nike duf­fle bag con­tain­ing an­other 24 pack­ages of sus­pected co­caine. Each of the pack­ages weighed ap­prox­i­mately 2.2 pounds. A sam­ple from one of the pack­ages al­legedly field tested pos­i­tively for co­caine, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

Two pis­tols were also found in­side the Ex­plorer. Adams al­legedly showed of­fi­cers a Ken­tucky con­cealed carry li­cense and claimed one of the weapons be­longs to him. When in­ter­viewed later by a Drug En­force­ment Agency spe­cial agent, the men al­legedly con­fessed that they were in the process of trans­port­ing the drugs from south Texas, to Detroit, Mich., and that the sec­ond pis­tol found in the car was part of their de­liv­ery.

Adams al­legedly told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he ex­pected to be paid $75,000 and that he in­tended to pay Trox­tle $15,000. A fed­eral grand jury is ex­pected to con­sider the case in the next few weeks.



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