A prohibited traffic maneuver early Thursday afternoon led to the arrest of two men as well as to the seizure of an array of drugs and nearly $15,000 in counterfeit cash.
Police arrested Sithiphone Rattanavong, 29, and Mitchell Chambers, 32, charging them each with one felony count of criminal simulation and four felony drug counts. Following the traffic stop, a search of the vehicle, according to police, turned up a quarter pound of marijuana, 31 ecstasy pills, 28 morphine pills and 3.5 grams of crystal methamphetamine.
Police also said they found stacks of fake $100 bills amounting to $14,600, as well as a money counting machine. The Secret Service was called upon to investigate the alleged counterfeit money.
According to Officer Burl Johnson, of the Aggressive Driving Unit, the two men had left a downtown club not long before he witnessed the 2003 Cadillac CTS driven by Rattanavong cut across multiple lanes of traffic from the Fourth Avenue entrance onto Interstate 40 west in an attempt to merge onto Interstate 65 south.
After Johnson noticed Chambers allegedly had a plastic baggie sticking out of his pants pocket, he and backup officer Sam Johnson asked to search the car, but the two men refused.
Rattanavong, of Hickory Rim Court, was allegedly driving on a suspended license out of New Mexico.
The two officers requested a police dog on the scene, and the dog alerted to the alleged smell of drugs during a check around the outside of the car.
Police said many of the counterfeit bills found during a subsequent search of the Cadillac had a good-quality print job, but displayed matching serial numbers and were printed on bad quality paper. A preliminary check by the Secret Service showed that bills with the same serial numbers had circulated in the Hendersonville and Mt. Juliet areas.
Rattanavong was being held in lieu of $122,000 bond. Chambers, of Nickleby Court in Brentwood, was being held on $135,000 bond.