Police seize 70 pounds of pot; involved in car chase on I-30
Three arrested in two separate incidents

Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

May 12, 2004 -- The 113 mile marker on Interstate 30 east proved a successful area for Sulphur Springs police overnight, netting three arrests and resulting in the seizure of 70 pounds of marijuana and a car chase.

Cpl. Jason Ricketson made the first stop at 10:49 p.m. after observing a woman in a brown 2004 Chevrolet Malibu following another vehicle too closely.

Upon contact with the woman identified as Arva McKinney Sanders, 49, of Fort Worth, Ricketson reported that she appeared excessively nervous to the point her hands were shaking. He requested consent to search the vehicle for contraband when her story about the reason for her trip through Hopkins County "didn't make sense to me."

The woman refused to allow Ricketson to conduct a search of her car, leading the officer to retrieve his canine partner, Sony, to see if the dog could detect the scent of illegal substances.

Sony gave a positive alert on the car, resulting in a search by Ricketson. A suitcase and a large travel bag were located in the trunk. The travel bag contained six marijuana bricks weighing a total of 50 pounds, while the suitcase contained one 20-pound brick of marijuana covered in mustard and bundled in plastic wrap.

Ricketson placed Sanders under arrest at 11:06 p.m. for possession of more than 50 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds of marijuana and took her to the county jail, where she was booked on the second-degree felony charge. She had been released at noon from the county jail after posting the $50,000 bond set by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup Wednesday morning.

If convicted, Sanders faces two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 on the second-degree felony charge.

Sgt. "Buddy" Cleve Williams was credited with the second stop and subsequent arrests. He pulled over a silver 1996 Isuzu Trooper at 2:22 a.m. at the 113 mile marker on Interstate 30 east after noting it to be traveling 71 miles per hour in a 65 mph speed zone.

Williams asked the driver -- a 25-year-old Fenton, Mo., man -- to step out of the car to speak with him. After the driver exited the vehicle and stepped away, the passenger -- later identified as 23-year-old Joshua Mark Pifer of Imperial, Mo. -- jumped from the front passenger seat to the driver's seat and took off, leaving the driver and officer on the side of the road.

Williams contacted Ricketson, who was about a mile away, and asked him to pick up the driver at the 113 mile marker, then jumped in his vehicle and advised he was initiating a pursuit. Several patrol officers from both the police department and sheriff's office responded to assist in locating the vehicle. A very short time later an officer advised he had located the vehicle on the interstate at the 119 mile marker near Buster Paving Company.

Officers continued following the eastbound SUV until it exited the interstate at U.S. Highway 67, heading north until it reached a Main Street trailer park. Pifer drove the Isuzu behind the trailer park and took off running on foot across the area to Coleman Park, where he dove into a brush pile. Officers contained the scene, and Pifer was located a little while later by officer Mitch Griggs.

"At this point we still don't know why he did it," Williams said Wednesday morning. "He did advise us that was just out of prison and he got scared so he ran."

While other officers pursued Pifer, the driver advised Williams and Ricketson that he did not know the other man who took off in his vehicle. The Fenton, Mo., man further told the police officer that the other man was just a hitchhiker he picked up along the road. Later, as the pair were going through the vehicle, they located a photo album containing pictures with both the driver and Piper in them.

The police sergeant charged the driver with the Class B misdemeanor offense of giving a false report to a peace officer and Pifer with felony evading arrest or detention with a vehicle. Both men had been released from the county jail after posting bonds set by Glossup.

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