A California man could face up to life imprisonment if convicted on multiple drug counts in a federal trial in Casper scheduled for next week.
Arnold Devonne Butler was indicted in September on five counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and a combination of all four drugs, according to federal court records.
Each count is punishable by 15 years to life imprisonment, with the exception of the cocaine charge, which is punishable by 10 years to life imprisonment.
The case started May 14 when a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper saw a rollback tow truck with a four-door sedan on the truck’s bed traveling east on Interstate 80 in Laramie County, according to the criminal complaint filed by an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The trooper saw no U.S. Department of Transportation number posted on the truck, and the straps holding the car were loose and frayed, so he pulled it over.
He spoke with the driver, Butler, who “… was borderline belligerent from the beginning and demonstrated little to no knowledge of the basic commercial vehicle questions,” according to the complaint.
Butler told the trooper he arrived in Colorado Springs the night before to visit family, and got a call from a friend, “Gordo,” who wanted a car picked up in Denver and taken to somewhere in Nebraska. Butler could not identify the location in Nebraska, according to the criminal complaint.
He initially said he was transporting the car as a favor without pay, then said he was getting paid about $2,000 for the job.
The trooper saw the car was covered in dirt, and saw handprints on the trunk that weren’t fresh but newer than the rest of the dirt.
He and Butler went to the nearby port of entry. Meanwhile, the trooper learned Butler had three prior convictions for trafficking controlled substances.
A K9 alerted to the presence of controlled substances, a Laramie County Sheriff’s deputy found a plastic bag with a white powdery substance, Butler was taken into custody, and the tow truck was taken to the Wyoming Department of Transportation mechanics shop for a closer search.
In a manufactured hidden compartment behind the rear seat, investigators found the following, with the drugs presumptively determined by a TruNarc scan:
- One sealed plastic garbage bag containing 41 packages containing suspected methamphetamine weighing a total of about 54.4 pounds.
- Two sealed plastic bags containing suspected heroin containing fentanyl weighing about 2.5 pounds each.
- Two sealed plastic bags of suspected cocaine weighing about 2.5 pounds each.
- One package of an unknown powder substance possibly heroin containing fentanyl or cocaine weighing about 2.5 pounds.