By Oron Gilmore

The Gazette Record

Two individuals were arrested near Fernwood Sept. 22 after deputies found drugs and illegally-mined star garnets in their vehicle.

According to police reports, Derrick A. Streeter of Hayden was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to delver, a felony. His associate Melody K. Peterson of St. Maries was also charged with possession of methamphetamine. Evidence on the illicit star garnets was sent to Shoshone County for investigation.

Deputy Dustin Pulley’s report said that he was on traffic duty near Fernwood at 12:53 a.m. when he pulled behind a teal GMC pickup. Initially, the deputy saw no unusual behavior from the vehicle. As he was driving behind it, the vehicle crossed the center line of the road and turned onto a side road without signaling.

The deputy turned on his emergency lights and conducted a routine traffic stop. As he approached the vehicle he noted a strong smell of marijuana, and that the passenger, Peterson, was slumped in her seat. The deputy, along with Deputy Brandon Vannatter who was on scene for support, had the occupants exit the car while they searched for drugs.

Their search initially turned up drug paraphernalia including glass pipes and small amounts of methamphetamine and some non-controlled drugs. However, they also discovered a pair of black cases hidden in the vehicle’s engine compartment. The cases contained approximately 10 grams of methamphetamine and several generic medications for erectile dysfunction, as well as a digital scale and empty baggies.

Deputies also found mining equipment and several garnets, which Deputy Pulley identified as star garnets. The rare gemstone, found only in Idaho and parts of India, is Idaho’s official state gem, and professionally cut examples of star garnet can be worth several hundred dollars each. However, residents require a legal claim to mine garnet in Idaho.

Streeter denied knowledge of the drugs, claiming he and Peterson were just returning from a garnet dig in Shoshone County. However, he admitted he did not have a claim for the dig.

Deputies then questioned Peterson, who admitted to using methamphetamine that day. She also said that they had returned from a garnet dig in Shoshone County, but admitted to not having a permit. She cooperated fully with deputies and was placed under arrest along with Streeter.

Both suspects were taken to the Benewah County Jail and processed. Peterson, charged with possession of methamphetamine, was released on her own recognizance. Streeter, charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, was ordered held on a $25,000 bond. Both parties have pleaded not guilty.

The apparently illicit star garnets recovered from the vehicle were transferred to Shoshone County deputies for further investigation, possibly leading to additional charges in that county.

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