EAST LIVERPOOL - A police officer preparing for a routine tow of an illegally licensed vehicle Friday found more than he expected: An estimated $25,000 worth of cocaine in the trunk.
Patrolman Steve Adkins was on patrol when he spotted the vehicle parked on Saint George Street with an expired license plate. When he asked for information on the plate, Adkins was advised the Bureau of Motor Vehicles had issued an order that the plates could be confiscated by any police officer.
Chief John Lane said city ordinance prohibits vehicles from being parked on the street without current license plates, so Adkins arranged for the vehicle to be towed.
This unusually colored collection of suspected cocaine was found inside the trunk of a car registered to an East Liverpool man currently in prison. City police said charges are pending against him and his wife. (Photo courtesy of the East Liverpool Police Department)
While inventorying the vehicle as usual for the tow, Adkins found a box in the trunk with a plastic garbage bag inside. Inside the garbage bag were several bags of multi-colored powdered substance which he identified as about 12 ounces of suspected cocaine.
Officers said the estimated street value of that amount of cocaine would be $25,000, although they were puzzled by the red and green color of the substance, speculating that perhaps it had been dyed for Christmas.
Lane also expressed his concern that, colored as it was, the suspected cocaine would present an even greater threat to children if they found it, believing it to be candy.
The vehicle was found to be registered to John Lockett III, 37, and it was parked in front of his Saint George Street home, police said.
The box in which the suspected cocaine was found was determined to be from a local department store with a layaway label on it addressed to Lockett's wife, they added.
She reportedly came outside and made comments to Adkins as he prepared the car for towing.
Charges are pending against both Locketts, according to Lane, who referred to Mr. Lockett's recent conviction in county Common Pleas Court and comments made then by his defense attorney, Doug King.
Common Pleas Judge Ashley Pike sentenced Lockett in November to two years in prison for taking a loaded semi-automatic handgun into a Wellsville bar in 2010.
During that appearance, it was noted by prosecutors that Lockett has an extensive criminal history, including a 2004 conviction for trafficking in cocaine.
Regardless, Lockett told Pike at the hearing that some of his past actions were "childish and stupid," and he would not do some of those things again.
King was quoted during the hearing as saying Lockett can "barely walk outside of his home without being harassed by East Liverpool Police Department," saying, "They seek him out and attempt to charge him with anything."
Lane said Friday in response to King's assessment that any time Lockett has been arrested, "there is a specific reason for it" and finding the suspected cocaine in his vehicle "is a prime example."
He continued, "If Mr. King thinks (Lockett) is such a great, outstanding citizen of this city, he can move him in next to him."