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Driver was Transporting $150K-$200K in Heroin, Expert Testifies

Prosecutors say the car was carrying 93 'bricks' of heroin.

A Harrisburg man is free on $1 million bail and has been ordered to stand trial on felony drug charges after a preliminary hearing Thursday in Phoenixville.

Prosecutors said Jose Morales-Morell, 31, of Harrisburg, was driving a 2005 BMW sedan carrying 93 "bricks" of heroin. Each "brick" contains 110-120 individual packets of the drug, according to court testimony. A state police expert on heroin testified the substance discovered in the car would have a street value of $150,000-$200,000 if the substance is proven to be heroin by the state police crime lab.

The value of heroin ranges from $3 per individual baggie in Philadelphia to as much as $15 per "stamp" in more remote parts of the state like Williamsport, the expert testified.

Prosecutors said the drugs were hidden in the trunk and headlight area of the BMW.  Morales-Morell and two passengers were stopped for a speeding violation on the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike on Dec. 17, 2012. According to an affidavit of probable cause, a drug sniffing dog brought in when the defendant refused to let police search the car detected heroin.

Details of Arrest as First Reported on Phoenixville Patch

Following a preliminary hearing Thursday that lasted more than an hour, Magesterial District Judge Theodore Michaels ruled that prosecutors has presented sufficient evidence to bind the case over for trial.

One criminal conspiracy charge against Morales-Morell was dropped. Defense attorney Michael Engle said his client looks forward to having his day in court. Morales-Morell is free on $1 million bond, which had been set by a different court in another criminal case again Morales-Morrell.

Gideon Weyl May 11, 2013 at 06:24 PM
So, the impetus for "probable cause" to search the vehicle owned by a citizen who was stopped by an officer for a traffic violation (i.e., speeding) was merely his refusal to allow them to search said vehicle? Curious...
harry finster May 11, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Well Gideon, the cops are permitted under law to let a drug sniffing dog walk around a vehicle during any legitimate traffic stop. If the dog hits on something then there's probable cause. The cops cannot detain you to bring in a dog but if one is present during a legal traffic stop then the dog will do his/her job. It looks like they were dumb enough to drive on the highway speeding and it wasn't their lucky day since the dog was present. Enough said there slice? I'm sure you're so interested in the law and civil rights....... right?
Gideon Weyl May 12, 2013 at 03:06 AM
?, You mention in your comment that the "cops cannot detain you to bring in a dog but if one is present during a legal traffic stop then dog will do his/her job." Your logic is sound as it pertains to a dog doing "his/her job", and the dog should be lauded for such. However, the article reads, "According to an affidavit of probable cause, a drug sniffing dog brought in when the defendant refused to let police search the car detected heroin."... So, maybe I'm confused as to the point of your response? Also, to be candid, I don't know what "Enough said their slice" means, so I cannot address that question. However, I can answer your second question. Yes, I am interested in the law and civil rights.
harry finster May 13, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Just interested why you immediately have taken the side of drug dealers? It's obvious from the affidavit that the cops suspected criminal activity and held the person and were correct. Also, following the stop, one of the defendants was detained for an outstanding warrant. The dog was brought in with a reasonable suspicion or a K9 unit would not have been dispatched after a refusal to search the car, suspicious activity and an outstanding warrant on one of the defendants. The police were correct in their search and did their job perfectly.

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