A faded license plate highlighted with a marker led Lower Burrell police to drug bust along Greensburg Road this week.
Inside the car that was pulled over, police say they found heroin and methamphetamine hidden in various places, including a potato chip can.
Officer Aaron Rodgers was on patrol near Westmoreland Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday when a Mercury sedan slowed down to “well below the posted speed limit” after passing his cruiser, according to a criminal complaint.
Rodgers said he followed the car but was unable to read the license plate because it was too faded. When he got close enough to make out the plate, he saw that some of its figures had been colored in with a blue ink marker, he said.
The driver, Shane Callis, 40, of New Florence, told Rodgers that he used a Sharpie to color in the lettering to make it more visible. He was charged with a traffic violation for that as well as drug possession in connection with the incident.
A woman who was a passenger faces more serious charges.
Shelley L. Lynch, 39, of Seward was charged with a felony count of possession with the intent to deliver drugs and related drug charges.
Rodgers became suspicious because the three people in the car “seemed visibly nervous and I could see that their hands were shaking while they were speaking with me,” according to the complaint.
Callis and front-seat passenger Jeffrey Lynch, 39, of Seward also provided conflicting information about where they had been and where they were heading, Rodgers said.
Callis initially refused Rodgers’ request to search the vehicle but agreed after the officer told him that he saw a “crystal-like substance” on the seat and would summon a police dog to perform the search.
After Callis agreed to the search, a K9 unit from New Kensington arrived and indicated there were drugs in the car.
In addition to drug paraphernalia, empty stamp bags and suspected crystal meth found in the front of the vehicle, police confiscated what appeared to be an “I owe you” book with price lists for “bundles” and “bricks” of heroin as well as the names of clients, according to Rodgers.
Police said Shelley Lynch had a Pringles potato chip container in the back seat with a false bottom containing “multiple bundles and bricks of suspected heroin,” the complaint said.
Stamp bags of heroin also were found in an empty Tylenol bottle. A plastic zip bag that was “loaded” with syringes containing suspected heroin was found under the vehicle’s rear seat, according to the complaint.
Shelley Lynch and Jeffrey Lynch are being detained in the Allegheny County Jail on unrelated charges, according to District Judge Cheryl Peck Yackopec’s office.
Shelley Lynch faces a preliminary hearing on the charges before Peck Yackopec on Nov. 21. A date for Jeffrey Lynch’s preliminary hearing has not yet been set.
Callis was released from jail and will receive the charges against him by mail, according to the judge.