A March 29 drug bust at a Lakeland motel room is sending a roomful of teens – some as young as 14 – to juvenile court. Five older youths from Arlington and Oakland are facing felony charges.
On a tip, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office narcotics detectives began watching Room 213 at Motel 6, located at 9822 Huff N Puff in Lakeland.
“We’ve had a lot of problems with that particular hotel,” said Earle Farrell, SCSO public information officer.
During surveillance, the detectives saw multiple teens arriving and leaving. Around 10:30 p.m., they watched a large group of boys and girls hanging out on the room’s balcony.
Detectives smelled the distinctive scent of marijuana as they approached the room. With the door open, they could see drug paraphernalia and what looked like marijuana and Xanax in plain view. They detained all people at the party and did a safety check of each person.
According to court documents, they found that Hunter Curlin, 19, of Arlington wore a black backpack containing drug paraphernalia and suspected marijuana.
With a search warrant in hand, the detectives then found 5 grams (total gram weight) of loose marijuana, a glass bong, a digital scale and 35 full bars of Xanax in the room. With consent, the officers also searched the vehicles of all present.
They spoke with 18-year-old Joshua Hall of Arlington, who said he and Elijah Owens were the ones who rented the motel room. Inside Hall’s white 2006 Cadillac STS, they found a black Ruger .22-caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number. It matched the description of a weapon in a stolen gun report.
Hall said he’s the only one who drives that car but isn’t sure how the gun got in there. He confessed that some of the marijuana in the room was his but said he wasn’t responsible for all of it or for any of the Xanax.
Other older teens present included Omri Brantley, 19, of Arlington, and Austin Blaine Gilliland, 19, of Arlington. Officers also found ID and other belongings connected to an 18-year-old Oakland female who has since been cleared and her record expunged.
Deputies issued juvenile summonses to the 17 juveniles in the room and released them to their parents. Brantley was released on his own recognizance, and Gilliland, Curlin, Hall and the 18-year-old Oakland resident went to jail.
Hall was charged with possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony (a Class D felony); theft of property valued at $1,000 or less (a Class A misdemeanor); two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell, (a Class B felony); and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia (a Class A misdemeanor). He posted a $20,000 bond on March 31.
Curlin was charged with being an adult providing a controlled substance to a minor (a Class E felony); two counts of advertising drug paraphernalia (a Class A misdemeanor); and manufacturing, delivering, or selling a controlled substance (a Class A felony).
The 18-year-old Oakland resident was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver (a C felony); possession of a controlled substance, marijuana (a Class A misdemeanor); and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia (a Class A misdemeanor). She posted a $4,000 bond on March 30. Nolle prosequi (a formal notice of abandonment of charges) was later filed in her case, and an order of expungement was issued for her records in this case.
Gilliland was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell (a Class B felony); possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture, delver or sell (a Class B felony); and two counts of advertising drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor).
Brantley was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell (a Class B felony); possession of a controlled substance, marijuana (a Class A misdemeanor); and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia (a Class A misdemeanor).
All five of the older youths have their next hearing date set for 9 a.m. April 9.
CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.