A Chicago man is facing felony charges after Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers found a hidden compartment in his vehicle during a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike in Wood County.
Troopers stopped a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica, with Illinois registration, for a marked lanes violation on the Ohio Turnpike, near milepost 69, at 1:46 p.m. Wednesday. Criminal indicators were observed and a Patrol drug-sniffing canine alerted to the vehicle. During a probable cause search, tamper marks were observed on the center console.
Further investigation revealed an after-market modification under the center console which was determined to be an electronic hidden compartment. The compartment was opened and was found to contain two cell phones.
The driver, Darius Meaux, 44, who has a history of trafficking in narcotics, was charged with hidden compartments in vehicles, a fourth-degree felony and incarcerated in the Wood County Jail.
If convicted, he could face up to 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
Earlier this year, Senate Bill 305, prohibited designing, building, constructing, fabricating, modifying or altering a vehicle to create or add a hidden compartment with the intent to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance.
It also prohibits operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance, and prohibits a person who has committed a first or second degree felony violation of aggravated trafficking in drugs from operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment.