Traffic stop leads to drug bust

Published 11:44 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A drug bust lead to a recent arrest, according to officials with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office.

Bell County Deputy Chris Barnes was traveling on U.S. 25E southbound behind a red 2010 Ford F-150, according to a news release. Barnes reported that he observed the truck cross the center line several times causing him to initiate a traffic stop near the Marathon station in Pineville.

As Barnes approached the driver, identified as Kenneth Tolliver, 55, of New Tazewell, Tennessee, he smelled the presence of alcohol and observed a cooler on the passenger side floor board. Tolliver was asked if he had consumed any alcoholic beverages and he stated no. Barnes noted that Tolliver’s eyes were “bloodshot red”

Email newsletter signup

The report states that after exiting the vehicle, Tolliver was given standard field sobriety tests and failed all of them. While talking with Barnes after the tests, Tolliver allegedly seemed very nervous and was shaking. Barnes asked Tolliver if there was anything illegal in the truck and he stated no. At that point the deputy contacted Barbourville Police requesting their K-9 unit for assistance. When an officer arrived with his K-9, the dog immediately alerted to the back driver’s side door and upon a search of the vehicle a black box was discovered under the back driver’s side seat.

The release states that when Barnes opened the box he found it contained five large clear plastic bags containing a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine along with another clear plastic bag containing one solid grayish looking rock suspected to be heroin. Underneath the clear bags the box also contained one Suboxone strip and a set of scales. During the incident Barnes was also assisted by Deputy James Taulbee and Pineville Police Officer Justin Taylor. During Tolliver’s arrest, Taulbee located a .380 caliber handgun in the center console of the vehicle. After a check on the serial number through Bell County Dispatch, the firearm came back as stolen.

The release further states that at that same time, Taylor located an envelope in the driver’s side door containing 60 yellow round pills later identified as diazepam, along with two white oval pills identified as gabapentin. Tolliver was also identified as a prior convicted felon.

Tolliver was lodged in the Bell County Detention Center charged with three counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, trafficking a legend drug, operating a motor vehicle under the influence and receiving stolen property.

Brian O’ Brien of The Big One 106.3 FM WRIL contributed to this article.