Westport police charge two with drug offenses

Officers seize marijuana, prescription pills, and $19,000 in cash

Posted 9/17/21

Westport police arrested two South Coast men on separate drug charges this week, following car stops on Route 6 and State Road.

The first arrest was made  early Thursday, Sept. 16, when …

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Westport police charge two with drug offenses

Officers seize marijuana, prescription pills, and $19,000 in cash

Posted

Westport police arrested two South Coast men on separate drug charges this week, following car stops on Route 6 and State Road.

The first arrest was made  early Thursday, Sept. 16, when officers pulled over an Acura MDX traveling west on State Road at 1:21 a.m., after a records check revealed it lacked an inspection sticker.

Police said the driver, Duarte-Souto, 31, of New Bedford, told Officer Jean Lopez that his license had been suspended. After confirming the suspension, Officer Jean Lopez asked Mr. Duarte-Souto to step out of the vehicle and placed him under arrest for operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license. After placing him in a cruiser, Officer Lopez went back to the vehicle to retrieve Mr. Duarte-Souto’s belongings, when he discovered a digital scale in the driver’s door of the vehicle. 

When Officer Lopez grabbed a fanny pack that Mr. Duarte-Souto had originally been wearing before placing on one of the car seats, he observed two prescription bottles located inside, neither of which bore Mr. Duarte-Souto's name. Police said one bottle contained Suboxone and the other contained Adderall. In addition, police said there were also loose Adderall pills inside the fanny pack.

Subsequently Mr. Duarte-Souto was also charged with two counts of possession of Class B drug (Adderall and Suboxone).

The second arrest came just over 24 hours later, when Officer Michael Chicca observed a black Mercedes SUV commit multiple marked lanes violations while traveling on Route 6 just before 2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17.

Officer Chicca said the vehicle swerved to the right, crossing the white fog line, then swerved left crossing the yellow dotted line separating the two westbound lanes. The vehicle then swerved right again, crossing the fog line and almost striking the curb. Officer Chicca pulled the driver over on Route 6 in the area of Washington Street.

Police said the driver, Ryan Merkt, 29, of Fall River, looked straight ahead while playing with the vehicle’s key fob as Officer Chicca asked for his license and registration. Police said he handed Officer Chicca his license only. When asked again for the registration, he handed Officer Chicca the vehicle’s inspection report. After asking a third time, Mr. Merkt finally handed Officer Chicca the vehicle’s registration.  Officer Chicca reported that he could smell a strong odor of alcohol on Mr. Merkt’s breath. He also noted that his eyes were glassy and his speech slurred.

After Mr. Merkt reportedly attempted to move around in the car, Officer Chicca ordered him to place his hands on the steering wheel. While radioing to dispatch for information, the officer said Mr. Merkt began to move around the vehicle again, as Officer Sarah Zielinski arrived as backup. He was soon ordered out of the vehicle.

While Officer Zielinski monitored Mr. Merkt, police said Officer Chicca checked the area Mr. Merkt was moving in and discovered multiple bags of marijuana. After refusing to take a sobriety test, Mr. Merkt was placed under arrest for operating under the influence, and placed in a cruiser.

Other officers arrived on scene and assisted in the motor vehicle inventory. Located in the glove compartment was a large amount of loose cash, a large amount of cash in an envelope, a large amount of cash in a multicolored drawstring bag and additional bags of marijuana. In the rear of the vehicle was a backpack with additional bags of marijuana and cash. The cup holder was filled with multiple used joints and a full joint.

In total, 39 bags of marijuana were removed from the vehicle, along with more than $19,000 in cash.  Mr. Merkt was charged with Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Marked Lanes Violation and Possession with Intent to Distribute Class D (Subsequent Offense).

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