Branden David Welch, 38, faces drug possession and other charges after allegedly driving a vehicle carrying methamphetamine, heroin and a two-year-old child.
According to the criminal charges filed in Pine County Court, on Aug. 21, a Pine County Sheriff’s Office deputy was on routine patrol at the Grand Casino in Hinckley when his attention was drawn to a tan Eldorado driving through the parking lot with tabs that showed expired in 2018.
The deputy thought he could see what appeared to be a child in the front passenger seat, though only the top of the child’s head was visible. The deputy activated his emergency lights to stop the vehicle and noted that the vehicle did not immediately stop, although it eventually did turn into a parking spot and come to a stop.
The deputy approached the vehicle and saw a very young child in the front passenger seat with no car seat or booster seat. The child was later confirmed to be two years old.
The deputy reports that he asked the driver for his identification and proof of insurance and informed him why he had stopped him. The driver verbally identified himself as Welch. Welch said he did not have any identification on him, and told the deputy that he did not have proof of insurance because he had just bought the car the day before. Welch said he had insurance on a different vehicle, but was unable to provide proof of insurance for any other vehicle either. Also, Welch could not tell the officer who he had bought the vehicle from.
The deputy said that Welch appeared very nervous and was constantly on his phone typing, and kept saying he was trying to meet “Bob.” The deputy could see butane fluid, an orange needle cap from a hypodermic needle, alcohol wipes and multiple Crown Royal bags in the car, all of which he recognized as consistent with drug-related criminal activity.
Welch started smoking a cigarette and his hands were visibly shaking. The deputy said he could see that Welch’s teeth were rotting. Welch admitted being on probation but said there was nothing illegal in the car.
The deputy deployed his canine who alerted to the presence of controlled substances inside the vehicle. The deputy searched the vehicle and located a black bag near the front of the center console area. Inside the bag was a baggie containing approximately 3.8 grams of methamphetamine (NIK-tested positive), several hypodermic needles, a broken glass pipe with burned methamphetamine residue inside, and a spoon with residue on it. There was also a baggie containing a substance consistent with heroin found in the driver’s door panel.
Welch has been charged with felony fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, felony storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of child or vulnerable adult and misdemeanor transporting an unfastened child under age eight. Welch faces a maximum charge of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.