No Headlights Leads to Narcotic Bust

By Ariana Camarena

Woodland – Three co-defendants traveling eastbound on Main Street in Woodland were stopped for having no headlights on, when officers discovered substantial amounts of methamphetamine.

A preliminary hearing was held on November 7, 2019, to determine whether the three co-defendants would be found guilty of three counts: transporting a controlled substance, possession for purposes of sale, and crime of possessing controlled substance paraphernalia.

The first witness to be called by the People was Woodland Police Officer Olson on duty the day of September 20, 2019. The first witness testified that he stopped the three co-defendants traveling in a red-pickup Honda truck without headlights. He identified Chris Cardenas as the driver of the vehicle, Schwenger as the passenger and Chrissner as the back-seat passenger.

The officer testified that the defendants were all cooperative when stopped. After retrieving identification from the driver, the officer returned to his vehicle to conduct a record and warrant check. The officer discovered that the defendant, Cardenas had three felony warrants and he then proceeded to conduct a search.

Upon searching, the officer discovered approximately 29 grams in net weight of methamphetamine in Cardenas’ front pocket along with $927 in cash in the defendant’s wallet. The officer testified that there were two backpacks on the front passenger floorboard. The first backpack was grey and contained a medical identification card belonging to the defendant Schwenger. The backpack contained a sandwich bag with 13.89 grams of methamphetamine and $7,427 in cash.

The officer testified that the second camouflage backpack contained a cardboard box with empty clear bags, a digital scale and three glass pipes used for methamphetamine. The officer testified that these backpacks were within arm’s reach. The officer testified that the controlled substance, methamphetamine, was found on the backseat in a black zipper pouch in the amounts of 27 grams, 22.8 grams, and 22 grams.

Co-defendant and passenger Schwenger was allegedly discovered to have two bags of methamphetamine in the amounts of 12.36 grams and 1.33 grams.

During cross-examination, the defense asked if the vehicle had belonged to the alleged defendant, Cardenas. The officer testified that the vehicle was not registered to any of the alleged co-defendants. The officer testified that nothing in the backpack contained anything involving Cardenas’ name. The defense asked about the co-defendant’s demeanor during the time of the incident and the witness responded that the co-defendants were cooperative.

The defense asked if there was any prior history of the co-defendants being associated with selling controlled substances, and the witness testified that there hadn’t been other instances.

The officer testified that he had not seen the backpacks on the floorboard until the passengers were out of the vehicle. The officer testified that Officer Shepard’s K9 found the methamphetamine in the co-defendant Schwenger’s backpack. He testified that he did not have personal knowledge of the backpacks being on the floorboard of the vehicle.

When the defense asked the officer if he remembered whether the backpack’s zipper had been closed or open when the methamphetamine had been found, the officer stated he could not recall.

The second witness to be called by the People was Woodland Police Department Detective Zachary Ryno. Detective Ryno testified as an expert in possession of controlled substances for sale.

The People started  their examination by asking the witness if possessing 80 grams of methamphetamine gave the witness reason to assume that it was for the purpose of sale. The witness testified that this amount did, in fact, give him a reason to believe this substance was possessed for the reason of sale. The officer further stated that it is highly uncommon for everyday users to carry large amounts of methamphetamine due to the risk of overdose, binging, friends mooching, the pressure to sell, losing it all or getting caught by the police.

The witness and expert testified that the discovery of meth along with the cash amount and scale located in Schwenger’s belongings gave him a reason to believe the methamphetamine was being used for the purpose of sale.

The defense asked the witness what would be the “cut-off number” if a substance is presumed to be suspicious for sale, and the witness testified that it would depend on the situation. The defense asked what number would have been the “cut off” for the September 20 incident and the witness responded that anything over five grams would have been the number presumed to be for sale.

The defense asked whether the witness was familiar with NHTSA training and the witness testified that he was.

The defense stated that according to NHTSA, a person can use up to 5 grams on chronic binge use. The witness responded that he did not have the statistics in front of him and that the statistic the defense used had been outdated. The defense asked what studies the expert had as evidence that this statistic was no longer valid. The witness stated that this statistic is “always changing.”

The defense asked if the $927 amount of cash came from a legitimate source would that change the detective’s reason to believe that the methamphetamine was being used for sale. The witness testified that the legitimate source would not alter his reason to believe the substances were used for the purpose of sale. The detective testified that he had not been given facts as to whether the source of cash was legitimate or illegitimate.

The case is subject to resume Friday, November 22, 2019, at 10 a.m.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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