Tinted windows, Carpet Fresh lead to drug bust
By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector
Friday, November 10, 2017
A Pitt County deputy stopped a pickup truck for its tinted windows on Tuesday, which eventually led to a storage facility packed with marijuana, heroin and cash and a world of trouble for its driver.
The incident began when Deputy Wes Terry stopped a red pickup truck driven by Thien “Oz” Ozen Vo on Tuesday afternoon. Vo claimed he was on his way to get some pizza.
Before the day was over, deputies had seized more than $100,000 in cash, heroin valued at $100,000 and marijuana valued at $6 million.
Following the traffic stop on Tuesday afternoon, Terry applied for the search warrant for 2843 Edwards Drive, Unit A, which is a large, metal storage unit with a roll-up door in Simpson. In the search warrant application, Terry described what happened during the traffic stop.
Terry wrote he saw a red 2017 Ford F-250 being operated on Black Jack-Simpson Road with a possible window tint violation.
“I activated my blue lights on my marked patrol vehicle, and it pulled over into a parking lot off N.C. 33 East by Britt Road,” Terry wrote in his application for a search warrant. “I made contact with the driver Thien Ozen Vo out of Orlando, Fla.”
Terry told Vo that he had stopped him because the tint on his windows was possibly too dark, and he noticed Vo’s hand shook when Vo handed him his license.
Vo told him the new truck belonged to a friend, Rob or Robert, and he didn’t know the percentage of the window tint. Terry got out a tint meter and tested the window, and it came back with a 32 percent tint, he wrote.
North Carolina law does not allow a tint percent lower than 35 percent on the front windows, according to Terry’s affidavit.
“I asked about where he was coming from and going to and he said Jets Pizza,” Terry wrote. “He first said his business in Simpson, then said the industrial/business area, and then said it was a business for kitchen equipment.”
Vo went on to say that he was from Raleigh and that he and his girlfriend were moving here.
“While I was standing beside the new 2017 truck, I smelled an overpowering smell of Carpet Fresh-scented material coming from within the vehicle,” Terry said.
Vo’s license had two addresses, one in Orlando and the other in Milpitas, Calif., a suburb of San Jose.
“Both of these states are source states for Illegal narcotics,” Terry wrote. He also noted that Vo had a recent narcotics charge in Wake County, for bringing narcotics into the jail.
The search warrant indicates that law enforcement officers may have been watching Vo before the traffic stop.
Terry wrote he was aware that Vo had just left the storage unit in Simpson because a detective from a law enforcement agency had observed him leaving.
Based on that information, Terry said he asked Vo to step out of the vehicle, and he asked Vo if he had any weapons, large amounts of U.S. currency, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack, meth, prescription pills or drug paraphernalia or if he had ever been charged with a criminal or narcotics offense.
“He said no,” Terry wrote.
Terry asked him about the charge of having a controlled substance in jail, and Vo said it was cocaine but the charge had been dismissed.
Terry asked for consent to search, and Vo said no.
Terry had a “narcotics certified canine — Titan, a 7-year-old German Shepherd — in his vehicle. He got the dog out and let Titan search around the outside of the vehicle. The dog gave a positive alert by scratching near the driver’s door.
“I allowed him into the interior and he subsequently gave a positive alert on the center console by scratching,” Terry wrote.
Terry began to search the truck and found “marijuana shake” on the driver’s side floorboard.
“I located a large amount of rubber-banded U.S. currency in the center console,” Terry wrote.
Terry seized the money and asked Vo why he denied that he had a large amount of cash, and Vo said he forgot.
Another deputy, Sgt. J. Croley searched the other side of the truck and found a manual bag sealer and a shoebox containing about $30,000 in various denominations inside a toolbox.
The box had a strong odor of marijuana coming from it, and when Titan smelled it, he alerted on it by scratching.
According to a news release from Lt. Kip Gaskins, Terry issued a citation to Vo for possession of drug paraphernalia and released him.
Terry spoke to the owner and manager of Simpson Industrial Park, where Vo was renting the storage unit. The owner said “Oz” had been renting the unit for two months.
Vo is known as Oz apparently because his middle name is Ozen, Terry wrote.
After searching the storage unit in Simpson, Terry filled out the forms indicating what was seized. He listed a box of currency, 2.2 pounds (a kilo) of heroin valued at $100,000, 671 pounds of marijuana valued at $6 million, documents, an Apple computer, drugs and narcotic equipment, a blue backpack, clothes, tools and other miscellaneous items.
Deputies are now on the lookout for Vo. They have taken out warrants for felony maintaining a business for the purpose of drug activity, two counts of trafficking marijuana and trafficking heroin.
Contact Beth Velliquette at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 252-329-9566.