Trafficking leads to jam

Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Four men were arrested and five large bags of marijuana were recovered during a two-mile car chase on I-65 yesterday afternoon that shut down the major highway for a while, the traffic from which caused an apparent seven-car pile up.

The suspects are facing charges of trafficking marijuana, possession of marijuana, having a pistol without a permit and resisting arrest after their late 1990s maroon Chevrolet Monte Carlo was caught speeding traveling northbound into Chilton County.

Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said officers received an anonymous tip that the suspects were going to Montgomery to buy “thousands of dollars” worth of drugs and bring them back to the county.

County narcotics investigators clocked the suspected vehicle going 80 mph near the Chilton-Autauga county line on I-65 around 4 p.m. The investigators alerted dispatch to have officers ready to intercept the vehicle at Clanton exit 212 while the narcotics officers followed the vehicle.

Once the vehicle passed the exit, officers from the Sheriff’s Department and Clanton Police Department attempted to make a traffic stop on the vehicle, but Davis said the driver refused to stop.

“The suspects then dumped five gallon-size bags out the window on the side of the road,” Davis said.

Because of this, law enforcement shut down the northbound side of the interstate so officers could recover the drugs.

The pursuit continued to the 214-mile marker, where the vehicle tried to turn around in the median. Officers blocked the vehicle in. The Monte Carlo tried to keep going, but a sheriff’s deputy car struck the suspects’ car to keep it from escaping.

Before the vehicles collided, one of the suspects held a gun out the window but dropped the weapon upon impact.

Davis said officers don’t know whether the suspect was trying to throw the gun out or whether he was trying to shoot. No one was injured in the incident, and the vehicles that collided didn’t suffer much damage.

The suspects who were arrested are Deferio Varner, 24, of Clanton; Larry Varner, 27, of Clanton; Timothy Dewayne Good III, 28, of Clanton; and Jeffrey Reese, 26, of Prattville. All four suspects are facing charges of first-degree unlawful possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, possession of a pistol without a permit and trafficking cannabis.

In addition to those charges, the driver, Deferio Varner, was charged with attempting to elude an officer, speeding and reckless endangerment.

The suspects are in the Chilton County Jail.

“I am proud of our narcotics officers for following up on the tip and stopping these drugs from reaching the streets,” Davis said.

Davis also said there were two wrecks that were caused by the traffic jam from the incident. One occurred on the southbound side while another occurred later on the northbound side just as traffic was allowed to move. The second reportedly involved seven vehicles.

The interstate was once again shut down to allow emergency responders to get on the scene. At least one person was injured.

Davis encouraged anyone who has any tips about illegal drug activity or any other case to call the Secret Witness Line at 755-7898. The line allows people to leave a recorded message, and there is no caller ID for the line.