Troopers seize 10 pounds of meth reportedly destined for Evansville (2024)

EVANSVILLE — Indiana State Police troopers intercepted more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine reportedly bound from St. Louis, Missouri, and destined for the Evansville area Monday afternoon, landing two women in jail.

Court records identified the two women, who troopers initially pulled over for a traffic stop in Posey County, as 33-year-old Demetria Gray and 34-year-old Shawunique Phillips, both of St. Louis.

The women are now being held at the Posey County jail. Gray is charged with dealing in methamphetamine, a Level 2 felony, possession of more than 28 grams of methamphetamine, a Level 3 felony, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana, court records show.

Phillips is charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.

A probable cause affidavit filed in the case details how troopers ended up seizing a large shipment of methamphetamine – more than 10 pounds – which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates could have a street value of between $30,000 and $50,000 in the Evansville area.

According to the affidavit, federal investigators may now be probing who could have instructed the women to transport the methamphetamine to Evansville.

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The seizure

The seizure began with a traffic stop.

Around 3:10 p.m. Monday, ISP Trooper Aaron Hadley clocked a white Dodge Charger traveling eastbound at 88 miles per hour near the 9-mile marker on Interstate 64. The speed limit in that area is 70 miles per hour.

Hadley crossed the median and pulled the vehicle over. As he approached the passenger-side window, he said he could smell the "very strong odor of raw cannabis."

Cannabis was legalized for adult use in Missouri this year, though it remains illegal in Indiana.

After collecting Gray's and Phillips' identification cards, Hadley said he returned to his patrol vehicle, conducted a check of Gray's driver status and learned her license was suspended in Missouri.

A second trooper soon arrived on scene, and Hadley wrote in Gray's arrest affidavit that he informed the trooper that his plan was "to pull the occupants out (of the vehicle) and search it."

"I told Gray that I could smell suspected marijuana, and I asked her if there was any in the car," Hadley wrote. "She nodded her head and told me she had some in the center console. I asked if there was anything else inside the car, and she assured me there wasn't."

With Gray and Phillips now standing near an ISP vehicle, Hadley began his search of the Dodge Charger. In the center console, he recorded finding a police evidence bag labeled, "St. Louis County Police Department" that contained a "green plant-like substance."

Hadley then reportedly found a second bag of what appeared to be marijuana, along with raw marijuana buds and stems in the car's cup holders.

According to the affidavit, the trooper then turned his attention to the trunk, which was mostly empty save for a black winter coat, an unopened taco shell box and a black trash bag.

"I could see a large bulge inside the trash bag, and as I looked closer, could see that it was wrapped around some sort of object," Hadley wrote. "With gloves on, I peeled back the trash bag and could see several small shards of a crystal-like substance strewn about."

Hadley claimed to have found a large vacuum-sealed package. It had been sliced open at the top, and he said he saw "a very large amount" – several pounds worth – of the same crystal-like substance he claimed to have observed earlier.

While waiting for two DEA officers to arrive at the scene, Hadley said he field tested the crystal-like substance and got a positive hit for methamphetamine.

Investigators later logged its weight to be 4,559 grams or about 10 pounds.

Michael Gannon, an assistant special agent in charge with the DEA based out of Indianapolis, told the Courier & Press the seizure represented a "significant" win for law enforcement.

Gannon stressed that he was not personally involved in the case, and he would not comment on federal law enforcement's ongoing role in the investigation.

But, speaking generally, Gannon said the DEA has noted a shift in large-scale methamphetamine trafficking in the Midwest over the past decade: The drug is purer than it used to be, and instead of being made in homemade labs, seized methamphetamine often traces back to large-scale manufacturing facilities in Mexico.

Women deny having prior knowledge of "package" in trunk

After handcuffing Gray and Phillips, the troopers separated both women and read them their Miranda rights. Gray and Phillips reportedly agreed to speak with investigators, and both denied having any knowledge of a methamphetamine-filled package.

"Phillips told (a state trooper) she is the owner of the car and was aware of the winter coat and taco shell box but didn't know about the package," Hadley later wrote. "Gray told me she was told to drive to Evansville from St. Louis to drop off a bag of clothing, but that was all she knew."

Soon after conducting these initial interviews, Hadley said the DEA officers arrived with other members of their task force. Federal law enforcement officials then interviewed Gray and Phillips.

"During those interviews, Phillips told investigators that Gray asked her to go with her to meet Gray's mother in Evansville," Hadley wrote in the arrest affidavit. "She said Gray wanted to pick up a bag of clothing to drop off when they arrived. Phillips said they picked up the bag of what she thought was clothing while they were in St. Louis."

Gray reportedly told a similar story: She said she was contacted by a family member to pick up a bag of clothing in St. Louis and was instructed to drop it off to a different family member in Evansville, the affidavit states.

Hadley wrote that Gray admitted the marijuana recovered from the car belonged to both her and Phillips, though she was adamant that she had no prior knowledge that the package in the trunk contained approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine.

"She also told us that she would find her own story hard to believe if she was a judge but insisted it was the truth," Hadley wrote.

The troopers photographed the now-seized narcotics and released the drugs into the custody of the DEA. A towing company then picked up the Dodge Charger, and Hadley said he transported both Gray and Phillips to the Posey County jail.

Hadley described the investigation as a joint effort between the ISP and the DEA, indicating the potential for federal prosecutors to take up the case, though as of Tuesday, the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Southern District of Indiana had not publicly indicated it would do so.

Gray and Phillips were scheduled to appear for their initial hearings in Posey County Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon.

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Troopers seize 10 pounds of meth reportedly destined for Evansville (2024)


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