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Arno's nose knows

By: Sherrie Williams
One Iowa Park Police Officer has a nose for drugs as Wanda Louise Vails, 50, found out Friday evening during a traffic stop.

K-9 Arno and his handler Officer Jimmy Skinner were doing routine criminal patrol on US 287 Friday evening when he made a traffic stop on the vehicle driven by Vails.

According to the probable cause affidavit, during the traffic stop Vails seemed overly nervous for a minor traffic stop. Skinner asked for consent to search the vehicle and Vails stated, “No you are not searching my car.” At that time Skinner retrieved K-9 Arno, a dual nationally certified detector dog, from his vehicle and began a free air search around the car.

According to the report, Arno immediately detected the odor of an illegal narcotic and gave a positive response. Based on K-9 Arno’s alert, the vehicle was searched and a green leafy substance that field tested positive for marijuana and a white crystal substance which field tested positive for methamphetamine were located.

The aggregated weight was 11.1 grams which was packaged in one gram baggies.

Vails was charged with manufacture/delivery of controlled substance, a first degree felony.

She was also charged with possession of marijuana two to four ounces.
In addition to the drugs located in the vehicle, scales, and several drug paraphernalia items were located and $699 in cash.

According to Skinner, the common street value of the crystal methamphetamine is $125 a gram and the common street value for marijuana is $100 an ounce.

The cash and the 1997 Pontiac were seized pending asset forfeiture hearing.

Wichita County Sheriffs Deputy Todd Kinsey and Narcotics Officer Sherry Fowler assisted in the search.

In addition to Iowa Park, Skinner and Arno have been taking drugs off the streets and roadways throughout Wichita County for just over a year.

Arno joined the Iowa Park Police Department March 26, 2009, after he was offered to Iowa Park by the Vernon Police Department who no longer had a K-9 handler. Arno had been through three handlers and lived several months in a kennel before coming to Iowa Park.

According to Skinner the team went through a retraining process and spent weeks bonding and learning to trust one another.

Arno is now the number two Police K-9 in Region 25 with the United States Police K-9 Association which includes Dallas, Amarillo, El Paso, Midland/Odessa, Lubbock and Abilene.

He is also certified with the National Police K-9 Association.

In just over a year the Iowa Park police Department has been awarded seven vehicles that were seized during drug arrests, as well as several hundred dollars in cash.

Since coming to Iowa Park Arno and Skinner have assisted the Electra Police Department, Burkburnett Police Department, and Wichita County Sheriffs Office with drug searches.

“He is a good dog and I am proud of him,” Skinner said of his partner.

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