09/16/09 — Man on trial for meth charges

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Man on trial for meth charges

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on September 16, 2009 1:46 PM

A Mount Olive man took the stand in his own defense Tuesday for his alleged role in trafficking nearly five pounds of methamphetamine.

Jose Alejandro Arciniega, 28, of Baker Chapel Church Road, Mount Olive, was allegedly driving an SUV that law enforcement officers were tracking via a Global Positioning System unit they had placed on the car.

Prosecutors said the lawmen stopped Arciniega following a drug deal that Agressive Criminal Enforcement officers said took place at a Drummersville Road residence in August of last year.

Inside the vehicle, hidden in a compartment that usually stores a tire jack, Detective Sgt. Matt Miller of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office found a duct-taped package, covered in some sort of petroleum residue.

Law enforcement testified that when they examined the contents of the package, they found five separate bags of crystal methamphetamine, containing an estimated 180,000 doses -- valued at more than $250,000.

Arciniega's attorney, Charles Gurley, made the case that Arciniega was merely a pawn in a larger drug trafficking scheme.

Assistant District Attorney Terry Yeh countered that Arciniega was extremely nervous and lied to police when a Chevy Suburban registered to an unnamed female was stopped on U.S. 70, near Bridgers Road.

During a cross-examination of Mike Cox, Gurley asked Cox about earlier testimony.

"You say sometimes (drug dealers) would put people in vehicles, and that other person would be arrested and they (drug dealers) wouldn't be, if they were stopped?" Gurley asked.

Cox said that was true in his experience in investigating such operations.

Gurley later made a motion to dismiss the charge of trafficking by possession, arguing that the state did not have enough evidence to meet the burden of proof.

Mrs. Yeh said historically, prosecutors have had to use circumstantial evidence to tie defendants to possession charges.

"The law's pretty clear that (possession with intent is) rarely able to be proved by direct evidence," Mrs. Yeh said.

But Mrs. Yeh said Arciniega's alleged lies to police were evidence that he knew more about the drugs than Gurley had argued.

"This series of lies are good solid evidence as to his knowledge about his activities," Mrs. Yeh said.

Arciniega was expected to continue testifying today.