7.5 Pounds Of Meth Nets Decade In Jail

Routine traffic stop reveals drugs hidden under spare tire

Arizona Courts

Arizona Courts Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A 52-year-old New Mexico man will spend nine years in jail after a jury found him guilty of moving $52,500 worth of methamphetamine through Payson.

After a three-day trial ending Aug. 31, a jury found Sammy Lee Mitchell guilty of five felony counts, including transporting drugs and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Mitchell Oct. 5 in a Globe courtroom to nine years, with credit for 220 days.

Earlier this year, officers stopped Mitchell for a routine traffic offense.

When they searched him, officers found a meth pipe and bag of meth, according to a police report.

Later, when they searched his vehicle, officers found five large bundles of meth totaling 7.5 pounds under a spare tire.

The street value for the drugs was estimated at $52,500.

In a presentencing report, a probation officer asked Mitchell if he wanted to tell the judge anything — Mitchell said he did not.

Mitchell was arrested twice for DUI in the 1980s, but quit drinking to care for his ailing mother, according to the report.

Mitchell, a self-employed painter, said he was a loner with no children or spouse.

He told the probation officer he did not agree with the verdict and planned to appeal. He said he didn’t take the county’s plea deal because “he did not feel he was in the wrong.”

The presentence writer recommended Mitchell serve the presumptive 10-year jail term as well as pay $275,000 in fines.

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