CANADIAN COUNTY, Okla. – Nearly $500,000 worth of marijuana were seized in Canadian County in less than three days.
It started December 27, when a Canadian County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped a grey-colored Nissan Altima 4-door sedan traveling eastbound on I-40 near mile marker 128, after the deputy saw the driver make an unsafe lane change.
Once on the shoulder, the deputy called the driver out of the vehicle, and back to the patrol car. Once the driver, identified as 48-year-old Iurii Stryzhenko of Los Angeles, California was inside the Sheriff’s cruiser, he told the deputy that he was going to Chicago with his “best friend” to celebrate the New Years.
He also said he was married, and that his wife was a beautician back home, and had to work during the holidays. He also said that if her business slowed, she would fly out to meet him on the trip.
The deputy then approached the male passenger of the Altima, identified as 34-year-old Andriy Lutsyna of San Bernardino, California and was told by Lutsyna that he was traveling with his “uncle” to Missouri to celebrate the New Years.
“It really grabbed my deputy’s attention when the passenger not only claimed to be the driver’s uncle, and not his “best friend”, and then gave a completely different answer on where they were headed,” said Chris West, Canadian County Sheriff.
“Because the two weren’t sure if they were related or best friends, coupled with the destination discrepancy,” the deputy became suspicious and believed they might be involved in some type of criminal activity. Because of his suspicion, the deputy asked for permission to search the vehicle. Both subjects granted consent to the deputy, and he located 30 individually vacuum sealed plastic bags of marijuana, weighing a total of 28 pounds.
Stryzhenko and Lutsyna were taken into custody and transported the Canadian County Jail and booked on Trafficking Marijuana.
Their bonds were set at $100,000 dollars.
A second incident occurred December 29 when a Canadian County Sheriff’s Deputy made a traffic stop that resulted in two arrests, and the seizure of 115 pounds of high-grade marijuana, as well as a 28-foot Allegro diesel-pusher motorhome.
The deputy initiated the traffic stop after observing the motorhome driving partially on the shoulder of Interstate 40 Eastbound near the 125 mile marker.
Once in position for the stop, the deputy observed the license plate to be partially obscured by the license plate frame. Upon determining the state of origin wasn’t visible, the deputy stopped the motorhome and made contact with the driver, Terry Burchette, 55, of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The deputy made contact with Burchette, who said he was traveling alone from his home in Colorado Springs to Shreveport, Louisiana to visit his mother.
When the deputy learned Burchette was traveling alone, he asked why Burchette would be traveling in a motorhome all by himself to his mother’s house on the Gulf. Burchette said it was because he wanted to bring his dog along for the trip. Burchettte then changed the story saying he was actually moving to the area, and was planning on living in his motorhome for a while.
The deputy then became suspicious after Burchette changed his story, and believed Burchette might have been involved in criminal activity, and asked for consent to search the motorhome.
Burchette denied the search by stating “No” to the presence of any illegal drugs or substances, as well as stating “No” to granting permission for a search. A Canadian County Sheriff’s canine was already on scene, and used to conduct a free air sniff around the exterior of the vehicle.
The air sniff resulted in a positive alert, and the deputy entered the motorhome locating a large quantity of marijuana stashed all about the interior of the RV, including the washer and dryer, under the couch, under the bed, and inside luggage.
“This isn’t that unusual of a drug bust, as we’ve encountered illegal drug loads being hauled inside motorhomes on multiple occasions,” West said.
Burchette was taken into custody, and the RV was towed by a wrecker to the Sheriff’s garage for a more detailed search. During the subsequent search, deputies were shocked when they realized a second person was found hiding in the bedroom slider of the motorhome.
“All I can say, is this man’s lucky he didn’t get a bullet when he came out of his hiding place in the motorhome,” said West.
Burchette was taken into custody and transported to the Canadian County Jail and booked on Trafficking Marijuana.
His bond was established at $100,000 dollars. He was released on December 30 when he was able to post bond.
The second person was also taken into custody, but later released when the District Attorney’s Office decided not to file charges on him.
Estimated value of the illegal drug loads are $90,000 dollars on the 28 pounds, and $400,000 for the 115 pounds.
“I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of these deputies,” said West.