By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Two have been charged with selling methamphetamine after a routine K-9 search turned into a drug bust.
According to police reports filed on Dec. 11, on Sept. 10, an officer on patrol in Babcock observed a vehicle that had been speeding through the area and soon initiated a traffic stop. Contact was made with the driver, 40-year-old Ernest Smith Jr., and the passenger, 22-year-old Nicole Keuntjes.
Police soon initiated a K-9 search of the vehicle, which soon alerted the officer of the presence of a controlled substance. Smith gave officers consent to search the vehicle, though through pat-downs of the defendants and a thorough search of the vehicle, no illegal substances could be found.
According to reports, an investigator had Keuntjes checked again and made verbal note that she could have something on her. Once heard, Keuntjes started to cry, and reached into her bra to pull out what would be 20 small empty gem baggies. Keuntjes also admitted to having a small amount in her underwear, as well as more in her pelvic area, to which she removed four to five more baggies of methamphetamine.
Keuntjes informed police that she was transporting the drugs for Smith as they were on route to LaCrosse. In total, she was holding 13.6 grams of methamphetamine.
Keuntjes allegedly told police that she had started to bring methamphetamine from LaCrosse to Wis. Rapids to make some extra money. She knew Smith was involved prior in the sell of methamphetamine, and traveled to LaCrosse at least nine times over the past month to purchase the substance to sell in Wis. Rapids.
On Sept. 11, Smith allegedly admitted to trafficking meth, and used a source in LaCrosse to purchase the drug from.
On Sept. 14, a social worker visited the home of the defendants on the 100 block of 18th Ave. South, where Keuntjes was asked if she had ever done any drugs in front of her children, ages 2 and 3. Keuntjes denied doing so. On Sept. 19, arrangements were made for her children to be tested for the presence of potential drug use on Keuntjes part, and they would find traces of methamphetamine in the hair of the 2-year-old, and methamphetamine was found in a urine sample of the 3-year-old.
On a meeting with police on Oct. 6, while Keuntjes maintained that she never smoked methamphetamine in front of her children, she admitted that others that had been inside the residence had done so with the children nearby.
If convicted, both Smith and Keuntjes face up to 25 years imprisonment and up to $100,000 in fines for possession of amphetamines with intent to sell; with Keuntjes facing additional time for misdemeanor charges of child neglect. Their next court date is scheduled for Jan. 22.