Postal inspection of suspicious packages results in drug arrest

An investigation initiated by U.S. Postal Inspectors into suspicious packages mailed to a Pine Bluff address resulted in the arrest of a man on multiple drug related charges Friday morning.

Michael Ellis, 25, was taken into custody in the front yard of a house in the 700 block of Barrow Drive at about 10 a.m., Tri-County Drug Task Force Investigator John Hughes reported in a probable cause affidavit.

Hughes reported that he, other members of the task force and a Pine Bluff Police detective met with two agents from the DEA and two postal inspectors who had identified three packages addressed to Ellis they deemed suspicious.

The packages were believed to contain K-2 or synthetic marijuana, and the postal inspectors wanted assistance in arresting Ellis after the packages were delivered to him and he opened them.

Hughes reported that federal officers arrested Ellis and handcuffed him and when task force officers arrived, there were two open packages and Ellis reportedly said, “There’s a gun under the mattress.”

When task force officers entered the house, Investigator John Bean reported seeing a glass jar containing a green vegetable substance that field tested positive for marijuana, and a set of digital scales.

Hughes reported that the substance in the boxes was Damiana, which is not illegal and is used to make tea, but is also used as a base for synthetic marijuana.

Ellis reportedly tried to hand $1,590 cash he had in his pocket to a female who was also in the house but was stopped by investigators. Officials also found$1,980 cash in a closet and another $720 cash in a Power Rangers wallet that was in a backpack.

Hughes reported that in addition to the 72 grams of marijuana in the jar, investigators found 400 to 500 units of ecstasy, a small bag containing heroin and small amount of methamphetamine in the house.

A Ruger .40-caliber handgun loaded with nine rounds and a Winchester shotgun were also located, Hughes reported in the probable cause affidavit.

The woman in the house was released without charges, the report said.

Both Ellis and the woman said they used the Damiana to make tea as part of a diet, Hughes said in the report.

On Sunday, Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $50,000 bond for Ellis after ruling prosecutors had probable cause to charge him with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with purpose to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Bridgforth appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Ellis and he was told to come back to court Nov. 26.