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3 arrested in traffic stop; found with quantity of illegal narcotics

COVINGTON — A routine traffic stop by a Newton County Sheriff’s Office deputy Sunday night resulted in three arrests and the confiscation of a plethora of illegal drugs.

Arrested were Crystal Michelle Wheeless, 32, of Old Concord Drive; Kevin Gray Stafford, 34, 619 Knox Chapel Road, Social Circle; and Grady Allen Wilcox, 45, of 68 Landola Drive, Conyers.

According to NCSO spokesman Lt. Tyrone Oliver, Wheeless was driving and she was charged with defective equipment (taillights) and failure to signal when turning.

Stafford was charged with obstruction or hindering a law enforcement officer because when he was asked to step out of the vehicle, he ran from officers, Oliver said.

All three suspects were charged with the following drugs and weapons violations as the items were found in the vehicle and no one accepted ownership of them: possession of marijuana less than an ounce, possession of drug-related objects, possession of Schedule I and II narcotics (meth), possession of sawed-off shotgun, machine gun, silencer, etc., possession of firearm or knife while trying to commit crimes, possession of Schedule I and II narcotics (Oxycodone), possession of Schedule III and IV narcotic (Soma), criminal use of an article with altered identification, possession of Schedule III and IV narcotic (Valium), obstruction or hindering law enforcement officer, drugs to be kept in original container.

Oliver said the deputy was patrolling in the area of Salem and Brown Bridge roads when he spotted a Ford Windstar van fail to use a signal when changing lanes. He initiated a traffic stop, but the van didn’t stop immediately but drove to the Flash Foods convenience store before stopping.

“The deputy noticed the rear passenger moving around and looking back at him over his shoulder,” Oliver said.

He first asked Wheeless for identification and discovered she had outstanding warrants against her, so she was arrested.

“When he ID’d the front seat passenger Stafford, he had warrants as well and when asked to step out of the vehicle, he climbed over into the driver’s seat and a firearm fell out. He then exited the driver’s side door and took off running on foot,” Oliver said, adding that he was apprehended after a short foot chase. “The other passenger in the back seat was also placed under arrest because no one claimed the drugs.”

Oliver said the trio also had knives in their possession as well as a sawed-off shotgun with ammunition. A search of the vehicle uncovered multiple types of pills, methamphetamine, marijuana, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia.

All three are being held in the Newton County Detention Center without bond.