Three young Havre men were arrested in Texas as they headed north with 75 grams of cocaine, the Texas Highway Patrol said Monday.
The three - Brandon Morse, 19, Anthony Bonavita, 18, and Justin M. Jones, 21 - are all in the Lynn County, Texas, jail on felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges.
The arrests occurred after they were pulled over for speeding on U.S. 87 eight miles north of Tahoka, the county seat of Lynn County, at 12:38 a.m. on Feb. 27, the Texas Highway Patrol said.
Bonavita was driving his 2000 tan Chevrolet pickup 71 mph in a 65-mph zone, Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael McClure said. U.S. 87 is a four-lane highway that becomes Interstate 27 at Lubbock, a Texas Panhandle city less than 30 miles north of where the Havre men were stopped.
The trooper approached the pickup, noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from it and searched the vehicle, McClure said. The trooper found 75.4 grams of cocaine under the front center console, McClure said.
According to the Texas Highway Patrol, the trooper also found less than 2 ounces of marijuana, marijuana pipes, and less than 4 grams of Xanax, a prescription medication used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks.
The men said they were heading back to Montana, McClure said. They refused to say where they got the cocaine, he added.
McClure said cocaine can be bought near the Mexican border for $80 an ounce, making the street value of the 75.4 grams about $6,000.
An agent with the Havre-based Tri-Agency Task Force said today the agency has been in contact with the Texas Highway Patrol to begin an investigation of possible customers in Havre and the source of money allegedly used to buy the drugs.
The agent said Texas authorities told him the cocaine was 80 to 90 percent pure. By cutting the drug with other substances, the amount of cocaine could have been doubled or tripled, he said. The agent said a gram of cocaine sells in Havre for between $100 and $120, meaning that 75.4 grams, once it was cut, could be worth as much as $27,000.
All three are being held on charges of: manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance; misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for each has been set at $505,500.
Bonavita was a passenger in a car that rolled over four miles south of Havre in June, killing Travis Allen Turner, 20, and fatally injuring 16-year-old Whitney Schwan. Turner, who was driving, and Schwan were ejected from the vehicle. The Montana Highway Patrol said speed and alcohol were factors.
Bonavita suffered a dislocated shoulder. He said later that he thought the only reason he survived was because he was wearing a seat belt.