HEFLIN — A Georgia man was charged with a number of felonies including trafficking identities and drug possession following a routine traffic stop on Interstate 20.
Ricky Deon White, 31, was arrested after a search of his vehicle turned up drugs, controlled substances, a pistol, $13,731 in cash and supplies that would facilitate the creation of false identities.
Heflin police Maj. Danny Turner was working the interstate on Tuesday afternoon when he noticed a vehicle traveling improperly in the left lane.
“He didn’t pass cars for like three miles, which is a violation — improper lane usage,” Turner said.
Turner pulled the vehicle over at mile marker 210 and ran White’s drivers license with police dispatch, which revealed a litany of past felony and violent offenses. Turner had only planned to issue a warning during the traffic stop, he said, but White was acting nervous.
Turner deployed his K9, Beni, to perform an exterior free-air sniff of the vehicle, during which the dog gave a “positive passive response of narcotic odor emitting from within the vehicle.”
The K9’s response gave Turner probable cause to search the vehicle.
Turner called Heflin police officer Chris Cohran as a backup and the pair searched the vehicle, discovering fraudulently created state ID cards from a number of different states, each with different names, along with debit cards with different names.
“That kinda changed things,” Turner said.
Turner discovered marijuana residue, a gun under the driver’s seat, a prescription bottle of 33 morphine pills not belonging to White, additional ID cards and an ounce of ecstasy.
“At that point we placed him under custody,” Turner said.
When White was searched, he had on his person oxycodone and amphetamines tablets and $1,731 in cash.
Police discovered $12,000 in White’s luggage, along with various cell phones which were turned on, two external hard drives and three laptops.
Four ledger books contained stolen account numbers, security codes and Social Security numbers with dates of birth.
“These things are full, just page after page after page. There is no telling how many identities he’s actually stolen,” Turner said.
Turner called the operation a “grand scheme,” which entailed obtaining a stolen credit or debit card number, then making a fake debit card with a magnetic strip using an embosser, then loading all of the stolen information onto the card.
Then, Turner said, White would make a fake state ID, put his photo on it and print it out. He then put a hologram on the ID to make it look official.
With the debit card and fake ID, everything appears legit to a retailer, “but the money comes out of someone else’s bank account,” Turner said.
“It hurts a lot of people. No telling how many victims this one particular person has stolen from,” Turner said.
Turner said that the Oxford Police Department and the Secret Service have been contacted to help with forensic analysis of all the electronic devices seized.
Turner said that White had been filing for unemployment, back unemployment and Social Security with his identity theft operation.
“Anything he can do to put a dollar in his pocket, he’s doing,” Turner said.
“This ain’t our first rodeo dealing with these kinds of people,” he added.
Heflin police Chief Ross McGlaughn was pleased that Turner was able to apprehend White.
“I’m pretty proud he got this one. I’ve never seen anybody be able to work and do interdiction the way he does it,” McGlaughn said.
McGlaughn, a victim of identity theft himself, said that he counted 12 different state seal holograms in the identity theft paraphernalia that was seized.
“These people are ghosts, and being able to actually put your hands on somebody finally is a good thing,” McGlaughn said.
The police K9, Beni, was content with his rubber ball on a rope, his prize for successfully making a positive alert to the presence of narcotics during this arrest.
“He’s obviously a piece of the puzzle. Without him this may not have been possible,” McGlaughn said.
White was charged with:
— Trafficking identities, a felony;
— Possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute, a felony;
— Three charges of possession of a controlled substance for morphine, oxycodone and amphetamine, a felony;
— Prohibited person with a firearm, a misdemeanor.
White, who was accompanied by his brother in the vehicle, was taken to the Cleburne County jail. His brother was not charged and was released at the scene.