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131 pounds of pot seized

Local law enforcement cooperated this past weekend to make the county’s largest seizure of illegal drugs on a traffic stop in recent memory.

Early on Sunday, officers seized 131 pounds of marijuana, which has a resale value of $250,000 or more, after finding it in the trunk of a car that was stopped during a road check on the U.S. 27/84 bypass.

An ounce of marijuana goes for about $100 on the street, according to police.

Two Florida residents who were in the car, a man and woman, were arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana in conjunction with the bust. Trafficking in marijuana is a felony offense punishable by years of jail time and large fines. In this case, the two people arrested could face a five-year minimum prison sentence and fine of $100,000, upon conviction.

Those arrested were the driver, John Fredric Lord, 24, of Sarasota, Fla., and passenger, Ericka Richelle Bailey, 23, of Midway, Fla. Lord also was charged with driving under the influence of drugs and driving while license suspended/revoked.

The bust happened at about 1 a.m. early Sunday during a road check set up by Georgia State Patrol troopers, Sheriff’s deputies and Bainbridge Public Safety officers. While talking with Lord, State Trooper Walt Landrum smelled marijuana inside the car and asked him to pull over onto the highway shoulder. After administering field sobriety tests, Landrum determined Lord was possibly driving under the influence of drugs and arrested him.

Landrum asked State Trooper Jaa Tucker and BPS investigator Chris Jordan to assist him. After finding about one-fourth of an ounce of marijuana on the floor board under the passenger’s seat, Bailey was also arrested.

During a search of the car, the officers smelled marijuana coming from the car’s trunk. They opened it up and inside were five bundles of marijuana, wrapped in cellophane, each about the size of small sleeping bags. The marijuana was taken to BPS headquarters for weighing and safekeeping.

BPS investigators and U.S. Drug Enforcement agents are conducting a follow-up investigation related to the bust, Chief Investigator Frank Green said. Investigators believe Lord was attempting to transport the marijuana from Arizona to Florida, Green said.