Guilty verdict for Wash. woman accused of smuggling marijuana

By Sarah Pridgeon

Tonya Burroughs, one of two Washington natives who were arrested on charges of possession with intent to deliver last November, has pled guilty in District Court and received a suspended sentence and fine. The couple allegedly attempted to conceal 50 bags of marijuana using hunting scent spray but failed to convince a trooper of their claimed travel plans.

On November 8, a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper pulled over a vehicle traveling over the speed limit on I-90 eastbound. He noticed a retractable cover had been pulled over the rear cargo area.

The trooper identified the driver as Frederick Batson, who allegedly told the trooper he was on vacation with his girlfriend, Burroughs, and that they were heading to see Mount Rushmore.

The trooper noted that the vehicle had been rented in Washington less than 24 hours before. He estimated the drive to be around 16 hours on good roads and felt this was too fast to be consistent with the behavior of someone on vacation.

The trooper was able to ascertain that Batson had previously rented a car from the same company, kept it for almost two months and drove an average of 1000 miles each week. The total cost of the rental was $4448, which was the most expensive rental bill the trooper had ever seen.

The trooper advised Batson that everything about his trip was consistent with someone smuggling marijuana. He made contact with Burroughs, who allegedly claimed the couple was traveling to Illinois, just to get out of Washington for a while.

The trooper’s K-9 did not alert to the vehicle. Burroughs allegedly admitted to having a marijuana joint in her purse and retrieved it for the trooper.

The trooper advised he had probable cause to search the vehicle. Batson allegedly refused the search.

According to court reports, three large duffle bags were allegedly found under the retractable cover, locked with small luggage locks. On top was a spray bottle of hunting type scent spray, commonly used to mask odors and avoid detection by animals while hunting.

The trooper believed the bags to contain vacuum sealed packages of high grade marijuana. Inside Burroughs’ purse, several additional joints were allegedly located along with a hand written “order” for marijuana that was later found to exactly match the contents of the duffle bags.

A total of 50 bags of marijuana were allegedly located within the duffle bags, totaling 55 pounds in weight. Both Batson and Burroughs were charged with three felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Burroughs was sentenced to between four and eight years in jail, suspended on completion of five years of supervised probation. She was also fined $10,000, with $7000 suspended.