A Barnsdall man was arrested in Cleveland late Wednesday night for leading officers on a chase and possessing nearly three times the amount of methamphetamine the law considers a trafficking offense, the chief says.
According to chief of police Clint Stout, Travis James Karrick Lawrence, 43, eluded officers during a traffic stop on the west side of town and took them on a 10- to 15-minute chase, which ended at a family member’s house on the east side of Cleveland.
When Lawrence finally stopped his vehicle and jumped out, he reportedly tossed a stash of meth underneath the truck. That stash tipped the scales at 53.7 grams, which is a substantial amount, Stout said.
Oklahoma state statues say possession of 20 grams constitutes a trafficking offense.
“It was obvious the way the items are packaged and the amount he had, it was more than for personal use,” Stout said. “He was selling.”
Stout says a witness in a neighborhood said when Lawrence came barreling down an alleyway between homes, he was traveling in excess of 60 mph.
“He was going off the roadway, through alleys, up through a yard,” Stout said. “He was trying really hard to get away so the officers wouldn’t discover his meth…. It’s been a while since I have seen that amount of meth around the county, even working on the county drug task force. But for Cleveland specifically, that is the largest amount we have seen in years.”
Stout said the chase happened about 10:30 p.m. in the small town, so officers felt comfortable pursuing Lawrence.
“The location, time of day, if it had been earlier, the officers might have made different decisions in the pursuit,” he said. “But there was little to no traffic, so they pursued him until they got him.”
Lawrence has a history of criminal run-ins, mainly in his home Osage County. Coincidentally, he was due in Cleveland city court for an unrelated matter on Thursday.
According to district court records, Lawrence has been convicted of attempting to elude an officer in the past, along with convictions for first-degree burglary, drug possession, unlawful possession of a weapon and numerous other offenses in Osage County.
He currently is being held at the Pawnee County Jail in lieu of $61,650 bond.
Lawrence was arraigned in Pawnee County District Court on Thursday afternoon for drug trafficking, possession of paraphernalia, reckless driving, attempting to elude police, failure to stop at a stop sign, operating a motor vehicle at high speeds and 12 counts of failure to stop at a stop sign.
Stout said Lawrence tried to seek refuge in his family member’s home, but the family member was not arrested and did not commit a crime.
“Actually, he came up and thanked the officers for arresting him,” Stout said. “He said, ‘at least now I know [Lawrence] will be safe.’ The family member does not condone his drug use one bit and was cooperative with investigators.”
Stout said CPD has made several drug arrests of late, some smaller than others, but he attributes that to the department being more proactive than it has been in the past.
“We like to be a proactive department instead of a reactive one,” Stout said. “If you are just sitting around waiting to respond to a call, then you aren’t going to find the drugs that are tearing a community apart. We have patrol officers doing traffic stops, which can lead to finding drugs like this did.”