Man in custody after routine traffic stop in Preston County


KINGWOOD, W.Va. — A man is in custody after officers said they found drugs on his person during a routine traffic stop in Preston County.

On Sept. 16 deputies with the Preston County Sheriff’s Department observed a brown Hyundai with its license plate light out traveling at the intersection of U.S. Rt. 50 and W.Va. Rt. 92, according to a criminal complaint.

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Benjamin Phares

Deputies later stopped the car at Larew’s Towing yard and saw that the vehicle had a dealer registration which “appeared to be barely hanging on as it was mounted almost completely sideways,” deputies said.

When deputies made contact with the driver, Benjamin Phares, 33, of Kingwood, claimed that “his girlfriend recently purchased the car and that the insurance was on the back of the dealer tag,” and while speaking with Phares, deputies observed “a black bag in the back seat commonly used to house controlled substances,” according to the complaint.

Upon removing the vehicle’s plate and running its information, deputies found that it was registered to Mountaineer Country Auto Sales and was set to expire on Sept. 19, as was the insurance information displayed, deputies said.

Phares stated that upon speaking to his girlfriend over the phone he learned that the plate came from someone whom deputies knew did not work for Mountaineer County Auto Sales due to the car lot no longer being in business, according to the complaint.

Deputies told Phares to exit the vehicle and a K9 unit then did a free air sniff around the vehicle and indicated “to controlled substance odor within,” deputies said.

Inside the black bag deputies had previously seen inside the vehicle, deputies found four cell phones, an Apple watch, a set of scales with residue of presumed methamphetamine, as well as several bags with one containing an SD card, according to the complaint.

Deputies read Phares his Miranda rights and asked him what the residue on the sets of scales was, to which Phares replied that is was methamphetamine, as well as stating that he “last used methamphetamine” … “the previous day,” deputies said.

A further search of the vehicle resulted in deputies finding “multiple needles” and two “large bundles of small bags,” and an additional cell phone, according to the complaint.

While being processed, deputies told Phares that if he had any controlled substances on him, and that if he did “he needed to say so to avoid felony charges for taking controlled substances into the jail,” at which point Phares told officers he did have something, then “reached into his crotch and handed [deputies] a black bag,” deputies said.

Inside the bag was approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine, as well as 1.3 grams of methamphetamine in a small bag in Phares’ front pocket, according to the complaint.

Phares has been charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled sunstance. He is being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

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