Winhall police stop van, find drugs

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MANCHESTER — A vehicle carrying crack cocaine and suspected heroin bound for Manchester was stopped by a Winhall police officer about 11 p.m. March 29.

Cpl. Jeremiah Rogers of the Winhall Police Department made a traffic stop on a 2007 Honda Odyssey on Route 11/30 near the Manchester/Winhall town line for a minor traffic violation.

After getting a warrant, police searched the vehicle and found about 158.5 grams of what is suspected to be crack cocaine, 101 bags of suspected heroin in red folds with no markings, 16 8-milligram suboxone strips, a medicine container holding 1 1/2 hydrocodone pills, two digital scales and three cell phones.

The drugs will all go to the lab to determine exactly what was seized, Rogers said.

"It's a major felony offense," Rogers said. "It's a good seizure."

Winhall Police Department Chief Jeffery Whitesell praised Rogers for

his work.

"Corporal Rogers and his K9 partner did a great job," Whitesell said.

During the stop, Rogers said he observed indicators of possible drug trafficking and deceptive behavior.

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The driver, Paul Gyambibi, 32, of Hartford, Connecticut, became argumentative and denied Rogers permission to search his vehicle.

Rogers asked Gyambibi to step out of the vehicle and he stood by with a Manchester Police officer, who was on scene as a backup, as Rogers used his K9 partner Gunnar to search the exterior of the vehicle. Gunnar is trained and certified to detect five different illegal drugs. Gunnar twice indicated on the same spot of the vehicle.

"If there's an odor of an illegal drug that he's certified in is coming from that location, he'll sit or scratch," Rogers said of Gunnar's signal. "He did both."

Rogers seized the vehicle in order to obtain a search warrant. Because the driver had committed no crime other than a traffic violation to that point, he was allowed to leave.

Police are now looking for Gyambibi.

"We had no reason to hold him," Whitesell said. "We're looking for this person in connection to what we found in this vehicle."

Because it was a Friday, it took until the following Monday — April 1 — to get the warrant and conduct a search. Rogers will apply for an arrest warrant for Gyambibi. He is described as a black male, 6 feet, 170 pounds with brown eyes and short black hair. It is unknown if he is still in the local area or if he has returned to Connecticut. Rogers said the investigation is ongoing.

Whitesell said the bust should show that area law enforcement is working hard to stop drug trafficking in the area. Police in Chester, Manchester and Winhall have all seized drugs in significant quantities recently.

"We want the public to know that we're working diligently with other agencies to curb this drug distribution that's going on within southern Vermont," Whitesell said. "We all work together and we all share information."

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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