Abraham Mahshie – Contributing Writer
Sheriff’s deputies trailed a black spray-painted Nissan Xterra with Georgia plates demonstrating suspicious activity early Saturday morning.
Several abrupt lane changes, and finally an illegal lane change where both front and rear tires crossed over a double line led Deputy Jonathan Bean to flip on his blue lights and pullover Christopher Wikstrom, 46, and Samantha Collier, 33. That’s when rustling in the car was observed while the deputy and backup were waiting for further information on the suspects, according to a Macon County Sheriff’s Office investigation report.
It was about 6:49 a.m. Wikstrom held a McDonald’s cup with a frosted beverage. Collier had no identification.
Minutes later, Wikstrom was on his cell phone, expecting to go to jail for probation violation and asking the officer if someone could pick up the car rather than have it towed.
Dep. Bean asked Wikstrom to calm down, and asked permission to conduct a search.
“Sometimes people give us permission to search thinking that we’re really not going to search or that it’s hidden in a spot that we’re not going to find,” said Sheriff Robert Holland in explaining why a potential trafficker might grant authorities permission to search a vehicle concealing illegal substances.
As a condition of probation, Wikstrom was subject to warrantless searches anyway. He told the deputy he had a bag of unused hypodermic needles in the back of his car, nothing else. Dep. Bean took Wikstrom’s cell phone away and placed it on the hood of his squad car while he conducted the investigation.
Dep. Bean found a clear Tupperware container with no lid in the center console. In it, a crystal-like substance on the bottom and sides. Deputy David Head, who had also arrived as backup, found a McDonald’s brown paper bag in the passenger front floorboard. Inside it was a McDonald’s clear plastic cup half full of a beverage and stuffed with a biscuit wrapper. Dep. Head removed the wrapper and found nine clear plastic baggies inside the liquid.
Dep. Bean recognized the substance to be methamphetamine.
Wikstrom saw what was going on and said it was his, Collier had nothing to do with it. Nonetheless, Dep. Head asked Collier to put her hands behind her back to be handcuffed. She did not comply. The deputy asked again in a sterner tone. Wikstrom did not like the tone and moved towards the deputy, requiring deputies to restrain and secure him on the patrol car hood.
Wikstrom’s phone rang continuously with a Georgia number and the name “Nickie.”
By then, Cpl. Tony Hopkins had arrived, and continued searching the vehicle, finding three more baggies of methamphetamine in a coffee cup. In the rear hatch, a small black nylon pouch was found with a hypodermic needle and Q-tip case.
“That’s trafficking level of methamphetamine, that’s a little over half a pound of methamphetamine,” confirmed Sheriff Holland. “We know a lot more than what we’re saying.”
The registered owner of the vehicle was not Wikstrom. Back at headquarters, Dep. Bean found that Wikstrom had numerous warrants for rest, including U.S. Marshals, North Carolina Parole, Habersham County, Ga. for aggravated home invasion and aggravated assault, Canton Police Department and Stephans County, Ga.
Collier was released and county magistrate Kenneth Poling found reason for methamphetamine trafficking charges and holding Wikstrom on a $1 million secured bond.
Asked if trafficking in the area will be disrupted because of this bust, Holland said any setback was only temporary: “The reality is that while it may slow down for a day or so, there’s always somebody willing to step in and take the place of another dealer.”