Alva Review-Courier -

Motorist assistance turns into drug arrest


A Woods County deputy was sent to assist a motorist but discovered more than a vehicle problem. Officers found hidden compartments containing drugs.

On Friday, June 10, at 7:20 p.m. Woods County Sheriff’s Deputy Chase Jones was dispatched to a motorist assist a half mile south of Jackson Road on US-281. He arrived to find a white Toyota Tacoma pickup with an Arizona license. The driver’s side rear wheel was off, and the unoccupied vehicle was resting partially in the roadway.

While Jones was standing by the vehicle, two men approached from underneath a tree east of where the vehicle was located. The driver identified himself as Michael Louis McAuliff with an Arizona driver’s license, which was later determined to be his brother’s ID. His actual identity was James Joseph McAuliff. The passenger identified himself as Juan Manuel Tenorio.

McAuliff stated he was driving from Phoenix, Arizona, to Anthony, Kansas, to check on a business and move belongings to his apartment. McAuliff stated he travels to Kansas once a month, and on this trip he picked up Tenorio at a casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 7.

In his affidavit, Jones states he immediately observed rapid incoherent speech, animated movements and loss of focus while talking to McAuliff. These behaviors were indicators which, based on his education, experience and training, are consistent with someone who was under the influence of controlled drugs.

Jones went back to assess the damage on the pickup, and observed a jeweler bag containing a white residue lying on the ground on the passenger side of the vehicle. He picked it up and placed it inside a paper bag in his patrol vehicle. The white residue later tested positive for methamphetamine.

Deputy Jones went back to McAuliff and Tenorio and asked if there was anything illegal inside the vehicle, and they both said no. Jones requested assistance from Alva Police Officer Ron Vasquez.

Shortly after, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Randal McCullough and Officer Vasquez arrived on the scene.

Jones asked McAuliff for consent to search his vehicle, which he denied. Jones requested a narcotics detection canine to come to the location. About 8:30 p.m. Alva Police Officer Kris Franta and his K9 partner Gator arrived and conducted a free air sniff around the vehicle. Officer Franta told Jones that Gator alerted to a trained odor emitting from the vehicle. Jones and Franta conducted a search on the vehicle.

During the search, a glass pipe that later field tested positive for methamphetamine was located inside the cab of the pickup. Underneath the vehicle, officers discovered three storage devices that were concealed by Velcro and magnets to keep them hidden from view.

In the first storage device were two clear baggies of a white chalk-like substance that field tested positive for cocaine, one clear baggie of a white rock-like substance that field tested with no results, and two glass pipes with burnt residue.

In the second storage device, there was an identification card from Texas with the name Michael Anthony Rowley with McAuliff’s photo on it, an identification card from Maine with the name John Bernard Everest with McAuliff’s photo on it, and a debit card with the name James J. McAuliff Jr.

In the third storage device was a bag containing a leafy green substance that Jones identified as marijuana, 26 Suboxone sublingual films, a yellow jeweler bag containing a white crystal-like substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine, one glass pipe that field tested positive for meth, two glass pipes with one loaded syringe with an amber-colored substance, two vape pens and one vape cartridge.

McAuliff was put in handcuffs and placed under arrest by Trooper McCullough who transported him to the Woods County Jail. McAuliff refused to book-in at that time and was placed in a holding cell. McAuliff was later booked on the charges.

James Joseph McAuliff, 53, has been charged with three felony counts: (1) identity theft – unlawfully obtaining personal identifying information, (2) possession of controlled dangerous substance (cocaine) with intent to distribute and (3) possession of controlled dangerous substance (Suboxone) with intent to distribute. The amount of cocaine was 13.7 grams.

McAuliff was also charged with three misdemeanor counts: (1) possess false identification card, (2) possession of controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine) and (3) unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

McAuliff’s bond was set at $15,000 on the felony charges and $3,000 on the misdemeanor charges.

Juan Manuel Tenorio, 38, of Anton Chico, New Mexico, was charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Tenorio waived an attorney and pled no contest.


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