Traffic stop leads to heroin trafficking trial

A former Bellingham man with a woeful driving record and familiar face will stand trial on a felony drug-related offense in mid-April following a serendipitous traffic stop in Friday Harbor.

On March 1, Joshua Merle Hutchinson, 32, pleaded not guilty in San Juan County Superior Court to one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver — heroin, a Class B felony, and to one count of first-degree driving with license suspended, a gross misdemeanor. Bail was set at $5,000 pending an April 16 trial date.

According to court documents, Hutchinson was pulled over and arrested Feb. 21 on drug trafficking and driving-related charges after driving by the Sheriff’s office in Friday Harbor at about 1 p.m. He was pursued and pulled over by a deputy who reportedly suspected that the man’s license had yet to be reinstated.

At the time of the arrest, authorities reportedly uncovered and seized seven grams of heroin, an assortment of paraphernalia and packaging materials, and $1,157 cash from the vehicle Hutchinson was traveling in. The 32-year-old, identified in police reports as having no permanent address, reportedly admitted to be addicted to the drug.

A Class B felony, possession of heroin with intent to deliver carries maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both; however, the standard range of sentencing set by the state is 21-27 months in prison for a first offense. A gross misdemeanor, driving with license suspended in the first degree carries maximum penalties of one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both.


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