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THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007
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Alleged dealer asleep at wheel

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Police arrested an alleged drug trafficker found asleep behind the wheel of a car carrying a load of illicit substances and cash, Decatur police said Wednesday.

Officers Terry Johnson and Heather Atchley went to Microtel Inn and Suites, 2226 Beltline Road S.W., at about 7:45 a.m. Monday to investigate a complaint of a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot.

Lt. Chris Mathews, a police spokesman, said Johnson smelled a strong odor of marijuana from the car as he spoke with the driver, Gene Paul Southern Jr.

Officers searched the car and found about nine ounces of methamphetamine, four pounds of marijuana, a meth pipe and a .22 caliber pistol, Mathews said.

The police Organized Crime Unit obtained a warrant to search Southern's apartment, 2230 Graham Ave. S.W., No. 16, where agents discovered an additional two ounces of meth and four firearms, Mathews said.

Johnson and Atchley "did a great job turning a suspicious vehicle complaint into two felony arrests in which over a half pound of methamphetamine and four pounds of marijuana were taken off the street," Mathews said.

Police charged Southern, 42, with trafficking marijuana, trafficking meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Morgan County Jail released him Monday on $5,500 bond.

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