FLORISSANT, Mo. – Florissant police blame a minor traffic stop for uncovering a large cross-country identity theft operation.
It began near the James J. Eagan Center, where police detained 22-year-old Joshua Powell. According to reports, he had so many strange things in his car that he led the police to a bigger discovery.
“He was trying to hide his identity, for now what we now believe: he was on a crime spree,” Officer Steve Michael said.
The suspect’s identification appeared false. But the police noticed other things.
“…Various types of IDs and checks that shouldn’t have been in the vehicle, and left with it. He took them to a local motel,” Michael said.
The suspect, from Florida, said he was staying at a motel on Dunn Road. When the police arrived, they claimed to have found three other possible suspects in two rooms.
A probable cause statement says police also found a “large quantity of state identification cards, credit cards, and checks, made out to various individuals, none of whom were defendants.”
In all, police discovered 86 suspected fraudulent checks.
FOX 2 spoke to one of the victims, who did not want to be identified but said her car was broken into in Wentzville and her ID was stolen. The next thing she knew, someone bought a car in her name in Nashville, Illinois.
“Many of these identities, credit cards and checkbooks were stolen from the vehicles,” Michael said.
“It makes me think a lot about where I’m going to park,” said Waun Jones, a St. Charles County resident.
Jones said he is grateful for the raid.
“Crazy! I mean, the people here who are taking from the people who work hard for their stuff. I guess that’s the life we live in St. Louis,” he said.
Police also claim they found capsules in the motel rooms that contained fentanyl.
“That’s why we do this job,” said St. Louis County Attorney Wesley Bell.
Bell’s office charged all four defendants (Tabatha Deuser, Joshua Powell, Jessica Anderson, Ryan Cartwright) with felony trafficking in stolen identities. Deuser, Powell and Anderson were also charged with felony drug possession.
“This could have resulted in loss of life,” Bell said. “We know how dangerous fentanyl and some of these drugs are.”
“When the red flags go up, and usually there isn’t one, there are more, so we went down that path and it was good police work,” Michael said.
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