Traffic stop leads to drug and gun arrest

A traffic stop by an Arkansas State Trooper on Friday afternoon resulted in the arrest of a man on drug and weapons charges.

Tyler Benson, 23, passed Trooper Zachary Varnell who was traveling south on Bay Street in a blue Honda Accord, and according to a probable-cause affidavit from Special Agent Oscar Bullard, the license plate on the Honda was expired.

Bullard said in the affidavit that when Varnell stopped the car at Faucett Road and Crestwood Drive and approached it, he detected an odor of suspected marijuana. When Benson, who was driving, stepped out of the vehicle, Varnell reported seeing a piece of plastic sticking out of Benson’s right cargo pocket, the affidavit said.

The plastic contained a small green pill, according to the affidavit, and when Varnell continued to search the car, he found a partially opened blue backpack in the back seat. The bag allegedly contained several tiny plastic bags, a metal spoon and a set of digital scales with a white powder substance on it. A glass jar containing suspected marijuana was found in the back passenger floorboard.

Bullard said in the affidavit that Trooper Ryan Fenton arrived to assist Varnell and when he searched Benson, he found 15 bags of suspected cocaine in Benson’s right front pocket. A .45-caliber Glock handgun with a bullet in the chamber was found under the driver’s seat.

A passenger in Benson’s car was issued a citation for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and for no seat belt and was released.

Pine Bluff District Judge John Kearney set a $100,000 bond for Benson on Monday after ruling that prosecutors had probable cause to charge him with possession of a controlled substance with purpose to deliver cocaine, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, possession of drug paraphernalia and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Benson was also charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses.