Trooper stops Colorado man with 99 pounds of pot

2012-11-15T05:00:00Z Trooper stops Colorado man with 99 pounds of potAndrea J. Cook Journal staff Rapid City Journal
November 15, 2012 5:00 am  • 

A South Dakota trooper made one of the largest local marijuana busts of the year this week when he discovered 99 pounds of marijuana that was reportedly bound for Ohio.

A Colorado man who was driving the rental car with the marijuana claimed this was his first smuggling run, according to court documents.

Bryce Cherpelis, 26, of Nederland is now being held in Pennington County Jail on a $200,000 bond. Cherpelis is charged with distribution and possession of marijuana. A conviction on either charge could result in a 15-year state prison sentence.

The largest pot bust this year in Pennington County was in January, when a Massachusetts man was charged with transporting 947 pounds of marijuana. In all of the cases involving large amounts of marijuana in the county, out-of-state residents were arrested.

On Monday, Cherpelis was clocked traveling 70 mph in a 65 mph zone about 10 miles east of Rapid City, and he was pulled over by South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Matt Oxner.

Oxner intended to give Cherpelis a warning ticket until the driver's reaction to the stop raised questions and the officer caught a whiff of marijuana on the man's clothing.

Cherpelis claimed he provided light shows for a band but was working as a DJ between events, according to court documents. He was driving a rental car picked up two days earlier in Reno, Nev., and due back Nov. 24. A receipt indicated Cherpelis paid more than $1,500 to rent the car.

As Cherpelis’ apparent nervousness increased, Oxner pressed him for details about his trip. He was vague about his travel plans beyond Columbus, Ohio, and denied having any drugs in the car, according to the officer's report.

With Cherpelis’ permission, Oxner walked his drug-detection dog around the car. The dog indicated it detected the scent of drugs.

During a search of the car, Oxner found three vacuum sealed bags weighing .3 ounces in a backpack on the front seat of the car. In the trunk were five large duffle bags filled with vacuum-packed bags of marijuana and a drug ledger in a notebook. Oxner also seized $793 in cash from Cherpelis.

Contact Andrea Cook at 394-8423 or

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. humpty dumpty
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    humpty dumpty - November 19, 2012 5:52 am
    I couldn't agree more.
  2. ZAR
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    ZAR - November 18, 2012 10:07 pm

    Speak It Brother Speak it!
  3. rockycherry
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    rockycherry - November 18, 2012 9:33 pm
    "With Cherpelis’ permission, Oxner walked his drug-detection dog around the car. "

    Now sadly, the Supreme Court allows searches such as you have described far too often, but the fact that the officer asked for permission implies at least that this might have been one of those situations where use of a dog was not automatically authorized; assuming for a moment that it was, then had the officer give the driver the opportunity to drive away with only a ticket and without a search, surely he would have taken it.

    My point is not to debate the state of the law, and yes, while I believe that Illinois v. Caballes
    543 U.S. 405 (2005) was wrongly decided and I hoe that the Court might limit the use of drug-sniffing dogs in the cases currently before the Court, this is not a constitutional law class about the decisions of the Supreme Court. I am both greatly troubled and deeply saddened that you are so willing to surrender your constitutional rights. The 4th Amendment has been gutted by the jurisprudence of the last 30 years or so, largely in the name of safety. Do you think Patrick Henry ("What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!") would approve of what we have done? This man wasn't stopped because he was driving 5 miles over the speed limit, a trivial offense that most drivers on the interstate in South Dakota are guilty of. He was stopped because he fit a particular profile. Why didn't the officer just simply issue a ticket? Why did he question him at all? I think anyone reading the article will arrive at the conclusion that the stop was pretextual. It isn't that such stops are illegal, but rather that they are part of a seemingly relentless degradation of our constitutional protections. Police cars used to have that banner "To Serve and Protect"; this stop did neither.

    As for food stamps and unemployment: you are giving this driver, possibly for the next fifteen years, a far longer period than people can collect food stamps now. As for unemployment: you don't give people unemployment. They earn it. You can't collect unless you have paid into the system. It comes out of your paycheck. Your employer pays into the system as well. It's just a cost of having employees. Unemployment isn't an entitlement. Unemployment insurance is simply part of your compensation. Do your job, don't get fired for cause, and if you lose your job then you can, for a limited time, collect the benefits that you earned.
    Finally, don't ever complain about your taxes being too high when you're willing to waste money on efforts such as this arrest. The Journal regularly runs these stories about arrests of persons driving through the state with large amounts of marijuana. Clearly the interdiction effort has not worked; It's not surprising; the most elementary rule of economics is that if there is a demand, someone will supply it. Look where it has got us: citizens willing to be stopped for little or no reason and to be searched.

    If the founders of this country could be transported 200+ years in the future, they'd be proud of some of the things that we have done. They would have expected Americans to be the first people to travel to the moon, for example. But they would be stunned that we allow these kinds of searches, and they would be appalled by the cost to our pocketbook and to our constitutional liberties.

  4. humpty dumpty
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    humpty dumpty - November 18, 2012 7:25 am
    not true. I've been judging you every time you write a response. my findings don't bode well for you or your education.
  5. humpty dumpty
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    humpty dumpty - November 18, 2012 7:24 am
    to answer your questions and mistatements:

    1. you can't say "no" to a dog sniff. It is made during a legal stop and you aren't free to leave. it doesn't violate your rights, as you have no right to privacy "around" your vehicle on public property.

    2. the driver didn't "agree" to a search. Once the dog alerts, it is probably cause to detain and search. again, you can't leave.

    3. yes, I feel safer every time one of these idiots goes to jail.

    4. yes, I would rather spend the money putting them in jail than give it out in food stamps or unemployment.

    5. I am perfectly happy getting pulled over for 5 over the speed limit. because, I don't speed, it is against the law and the dog wouldn't smell anything on my car.

    6. since you are absolutely wrong on every point, how about you study the actual law and not just the wikipedia stuff.
  6. rockycherry
    Report Abuse
    rockycherry - November 17, 2012 10:55 pm
    What an absolute waste of resources. This is what the war on drugs has reduced us to. We spend money on this kind of enforcement and incarceration. We pay cops to pull people over for slightly exceeding the speed limit - why? Because the driver no doubt fit some profile. Because the cop has got a drug detection dog. Did the cop tell the driver that he could say ""no" and just drive away? Of course not. And the driver foolishly agrees to a search, not knowing any better. The men who founded this country were armed smugglers (they didn't get to vote on their taxes so they smuggled to avoid them). That's why we have the 2nd and 4th Amendment. They would be utterly stunned to learn that we routinely allow this to happen.

    Does anyone out there really feel safer because of this? Are you happy about spending $500,000 (in today's dollars; certainly more by this guy gets out in 15 years) to put this guy in jail for the next 15 years? Do you really want to be pulled over for five miles over the speed limit on the interstate?. A waste of money and offense to the principles of the Constitution.
  7. rcsdlakota
    Report Abuse
    rcsdlakota - November 16, 2012 8:10 pm
    lostandfound it was the law they broke so let the accused have his day in court. No one needs to judge anyone. Those who are judgemental are no better than those they ignorantly opinionate. Only God Can Judge Me.

    Let it Be Known
  8. lostandfound
    Report Abuse
    lostandfound - November 16, 2012 12:14 pm
    bigallen i guess if it was a law they broke someone needs to judge them.
  9. bigallen
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    bigallen - November 15, 2012 12:19 pm
    rev u sure are judgmental.
  10. Revelation
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    Revelation - November 15, 2012 8:40 am
    Sounds like excellent police work. The person arrested was probably was trying to avoid being taxed for his marijuana sales in Colorado---or is targeting swing states. It sounds like this is the first time he was caught and not the first time he has done this. Most people wouldn't shell out $1,500 on a rental car and have a ledger---as well as nearly 100 pounds of drugs. Hopefully he'll be able to make that trip to Ohio without the drugs in 2027.
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