A routine traffic stop Monday afternoon led to the arrest of the driver and her passenger on methamphetamine possession charges, according to the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office.
Master Deputy Mark Guarino and Deputy 1st Class R. Norman were patrolling the Bay District after the Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team received complaints about the manufacturing, transportation and usage of illegal narcotics, along with other quality-of-life issues, in the area, Guarino wrote in an incident report.
"In fact, recently, Master Deputy (Kirk) McGlamery located an abandoned methamphetamine lab near the public dumpsters on Lawrence Church Road," Guarino wrote.
Just minutes after arriving in the area, Norman and Guarino saw a Jeep Grand Cherokee merging onto Red Hill Church Road from Starling Road traveling toward Georgia Highway 67. They noted that the driver, later identified as Rebecca Lynn Dixon, 29, of Dean Forest Road in Garden City, "was not wearing her seat belt and was feverishly attempting to put it on when she observed us," Guarino said.
Dixon told Norman she didn't have her driver's license with her, but she gave what she said was her name and birthdate. Guarino said the name sounded familiar, but he couldn't place it until he looked it up. It turned out the name belonged to a woman Guarino had stopped a week earlier in the Brooklet area, he said.
"She looked nothing like the person we now had stopped and could never be mistaken for her," Guarino wrote.
Even after this, Dixon insisted the name she gave was her real name, Guarino's report says, until he arrested her, placed her in the patrol car and showed her a picture of the woman whose name she gave.
When she gave her real name, Dixon was found to have an outstanding Bulloch County probation warrant and a Bulloch County Superior Court bench warrant, stemming from narcotics and cruelty to children arrests, the report says, adding that her driver's license was suspended.
McGlamery and his K-9 partner, Max, arrived, and Max alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle Dixon was driving, Guarino said.
A search revealed a small amount of suspected crystal meth inside a cellophane wrapper inside a small container of lip balm, which was in a purse. The purse was under a child seat where Dixon's 2-year-old daughter was seated, Guarino wrote.
The search further revealed a purse that belonged to the passenger, later identified as Terri Amanda Bell, 47, of Olney Station Drive in Ellabell. That purse had a cellophane wrapper inside, with 12 yellowish pills, which were determined to be hydrocodone, the report says.
Bell "made a statement" about the pills "that was not induced or expected," Guarino said.
"She sighed and stated that she bought the pills from her friend because she had been experiencing pain," Guarino wrote. "She also asked if the pills could just be thrown away."
Bell told the deputies that she is the child's foster mother, having been awarded temporary custody because Dixon, the girl's biological mother, "had a drug problem," Guarino said. Bell added that she also has custody of Dixon's two other boys and that their father is in jail on drug charges, the report says.
While Bell was talking with Norman, he noticed that she had been digging near her waistband, then clenched her hand. When he ordered her to show him what she was holding, he took possession of suspected narcotics, Guarino wrote.
Bell admitted that "she uses methamphetamine because she lacks energy," Guarino said. "She advised that she does not see the problem with using the drug in small amounts while taking care of the children. Bell informed that she needs the energy to keep up with the kids as they are so active."
When deputies asked her if she had considered an energy drink, she "advised that she had not, but would consider the option in the future," Guarino wrote. "She was given a list of the available beverages on the market that may work.
"I observed that when she made the statements about taking narcotics and caring for the children or having the contraband in her possession," the report continues, "she was very calm and seemed not to have any worries about her pending charges or the possible effects of her statements."
Dixon was charged with driving while license suspended or revoked, giving false information to a law enforcement officer, no seat belt, possession of meth and the outstanding bench warrants. Bell was charged with possession of meth, possession of a schedule II narcotic and original medication container required.