Out-of-fuel van leads to discovery of $100,000 in meth, 3 arrests

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COLUMBUS, Ind. (Sept. 10, 2015) – It started as a simple check on some travelers who ran out of gas and ended with three people in jail on methamphetamine charges.

Around 3 a.m. Wednesday, officers from the Columbus Police Department stopped to check on three people who were stranded after their van ran out of gas on I-65 near mile marker 62.

They spoke to Alexander Piano Jr., 45, Indianapolis, who told police the van ran out of fuel a few miles south from their current location. Officers said Piano looked extremely nervous when they talked to him and noticed he was carrying a handgun.

He informed officers he didn’t have a permit for the firearm; police took him into custody.

Police also found Billy S. Patterson, 32, Indianapolis, and Ashley George, 28, Beech Grove, inside the vehicle. While officers talked to them, a police K-9 indicated there were drugs inside. A search turned up a small bag of methamphetamine, syringes, electronic scales, a shotgun and a small safe.

After getting a search warrant, police opened the safe, where they found 2.3 pounds of meth valued at more than $100,000.

Piano, Patterson and George were taken to the Bartholomew County Jail on preliminary charges of possession of methamphetamine. Piano also faced a charge of possessing a handgun without a permit.

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