GPS helps lead to drug arrest; bond at $1 million
CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign man is being held at the Champaign County jail on $1 million bond after Champaign police used a GPS tracking device attached to his vehicle to document his alleged drug-distribution operation.
Cash and suspected drugs seized in the arrest are valued at more than $400,000.
Kwenton Palmer-Smith, 31, who listed addresses in the 800 block of Sherwood Terrace and the 3100 block of Sylvan Drive, asked for more time to hire an attorney after he was charged on Monday with unlawful possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, unlawful possession with the intent to deliver cannabis and aggravated unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Champaign police, with the help of her office, got a search warrant authorizing the placement of a GPS tracking device to Palmer-Smith's vehicle.
Rietz said it was the first known use of such a search warrant in Champaign County since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Jan. 23 requiring police to obtain a warrant from a judge before placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle.
"The use of this statute in this instance is very important given the mount of money and the amount of drugs involved," Rietz said.
With the help of the GPS unit and other investigative work, Rietz said police were able to determine that Palmer-Smith was running an alleged drug-distribution operation out of two Champaign homes, one in the 800 block of Sherwood Terrace and the other in the 3100 block of Sylvan Drive.
After police got search warrants for the two homes, they went to both locations and seized:
— About 6.7 pounds of suspected cocaine. Rietz said the substance had an approximate street value of $304,510.
— About 11.1 pounds of suspected marijuana. Rietz said the substance had an approximate street value of $37,878.
— A loaded .45-caliber pistol.
— More than $73,400 of cash. Some of the money was on Palmer-Smith's person. Some of it was in a home, and the rest of it was in a coat pocket in his car.
— Assorted packaging and digital scales.
Judge Thomas Difanis set Palmer-Smith's bond at $1 million on Saturday. During Monday's arraignment hearing, Judge Richard Klaus also ordered, at the request of the state's attorney's office, that Palmer-Smith may not post bail until the court holds a hearing to determine that the bail money comes from what Rietz called a "legitimate source."
Rietz said Palmer-Smith would have to show that the bail money did not come from the sale of drugs, either through pay stubs, bank records or other documents.
After Palmer-Smith asked for more time to hire an attorney, Klaus set Palmer-Smith's next court appearance for May 30.