Drugs, $144K seized in U.S. 20 stops

March 1, 2019

La PORTE – Two traffic stops along U.S. 20 on the same day last week led to four arrests and one of the largest seizures of suspected drug-related cash ever in the county, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department.

The two “significant” arrests both occurred on Feb. 19, along U.S. 20, one just north of La Porte near Springville, and the other just west of Rolling Prairie, according to sheriff’s Capt. Derek J. Allen.

“Recently, the sheriff’s office administration has encouraged and reminded deputies within the Patrol Division to remain proactive, aggressive and to utilize the tools and resources that are readily made available to them,” Allen said.

“A concerted effort of enforcement is being made on the major roadways in La Porte County that are known to be involved in the drug and trafficking industry. Deputies remain committed to holding individuals accountable who traffic drugs, large amount of monies associated with drug trade, and firearms into and through La Porte County.”

Just before 3 p.m. on Feb. 19, a deputy initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle for following too closely on U.S. 20, just west of CR-350E near Rolling Prairie, according to the sheriff’s department.

A K-9 Unit was summoned and the dog, Bosco, found “five square-shaped bundles” in the vehicle, Allen said. The driver, identified as 31-year-old Alberto Rosales of South Bend, was found to be “a wanted person through Elkhart County,” according to the sheriff’s department, and was arrested.

“In a controlled environment, the five bundles were opened and determined to be various denominations of U.S. currency,” Allen said. “The monies were tallied and resulted in the seizure of $144,200.

Because the seized monies are associated with the drug trafficking industry, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were contacted to assist. The $144,200 seizure ranks as one of the largest ever in La Porte County by law enforcement, he said.

The Sheriff’s Department, DEA and La Porte County Prosecutor’s office have been working together completing the forfeiture paperwork, Allen said. The seizure investigation is ongoing, and Rosales was released from custody on Feb. 25.

Several hours earlier, just after 1 a.m., a deputy initiated a traffic stop on a car on U.S. 20, just east of State Road 39, according to the sheriff’s department. There were three occupants in the vehicle and, suspecting drug activity, the deputy summoned a K-9 Unit to the scene.

When K-9 Hokie and his partner arrived, they investigated the vehicle, “resulting in several drugs, and items associated with dealing drugs, being located,” Allen said.

All three occupants of the vehicle were arrested and taken to the La Porte County Jail. The driver, identified as 22-year-old Robert Grimm of Crown Point, was charged with felony dealing in methamphetamine; and misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, and operating a vehicle without ever receiving a license, according to the sheriff’s department.

A passenger, identified as 21-year-old Courtney Ann Milby of Crown Point, was charged with felony counts of dealing in methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a syringe, and possession of a narcotic drug, according to the sheriff’s department. A second passenger, identified as 20-year-old Lauren Milby of Crown Point, was charged with felony identity deception, according to the sheriff’s department.

Grimm and Courtney Milby are being held on $50,000 cash bonds, and are next scheduled to appear in La Porte Circuit Court on March 8. Lauren Milby is being held on a $755 cash bond and is scheduled to appear March 6 in Circuit Court.

—From staff reports