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Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

Meth, fentanyl found on Kitts Hill man

A routine traffic stop by a Lawrence County deputy turned into a drug bust on Sunday after the deputy found drugs on the car’s passenger.

Around 10 p.m., Sgt. Brian Chaffins was on U.S. 52 when he noticed that the vehicle in front of him had a broken tail light that was out. The deputy was traveling at the posted speed and noticed the other vehicle kept pulling away from him.

When the vehicle exited U.S. 52 at the State Route 141 exit, the driver failed to make a complete stop at the stop sign. Chaffins stopped the vehicle and found the driver and the passenger to “be very nervous.”

He called for a K-9 unit and asked the driver for his license and proof of insurance.

When the passenger opened the glove box to look for pertinent documents, the deputy saw several plastic baggies. Ironton Police officer Sgt. Brian Pauley arrived on scene with K-9 officer Goose and the car’s occupants were removed from the vehicle. Goose sniffed the car and indicated that drugs were probably in the car.

Chaffins told the occupants about that and the passenger, Derik R. Blankenship, 21, of Kitts Hill, admitted that drugs could be found in or around the passenger compartment. He was read his rights, which he waived, and then told the deputy that there was a bag of fentanyl in the car and that he had used some. He also stated he had methamphetamine on his person. Chaffins removed a baggie from Blankenship’s pants and the nearly 60 gram content of the baggie tested positive for meth. The 3.3 grams of powder removed from the car tested positive for fentanyl.

The driver of the car was searched and no drugs were found on him. He told the officer that he didn’t know about the drugs and was just giving Blankenship a ride, which the passenger confirmed. Due to a lack of evidence, the driver was given a warning about running the stop sign and released with a warning.

Blankenship was arrested for trafficking in drugs, Schedule I and II, a first-degree felony. He was housed in the Lawrence County Jail.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless commended Chaffins on a job well done.

“We must continue this war on drugs to protect our beautiful county,” Lawless said.