NICE, LAKE COUNTY – Three guys driving through town smoking marijuana were probably not aware that they had a broken tail light on their car, drawing unwanted attention. And sure enough, it caught the eye of a patrol deputy, who spotted the car westbound on Highway 20 in Nice, the small resort and residential town that hugs the north shore of Clear Lake. The town of under 3000 residents has dozens of small docks jutting into the lake perfect for boating and fishing, while the northern part of town is more wooded, heading toward the Mendocino National Forest. Up along Highway 20 towards Lakeport is the Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino, which is where the three young men were pulled over.
The driver, 25-year-old Tory Patrick Hogan, is a local resident of Nice (pronounced Neese). According to Steve Brooks, the Lake County Public Information Officer, as the deputy spoke to Hogan about the brake light that was not working, he couldn’t help but notice the smell of marijuana wafting from the car. He asked all three men in the car to step out. Along with Hogan, the front seat passenger was 23-year-old Jose Eugenio Cabrera, and the back seat rider was 19-year-old Gregory Lee Symon. Both passengers were up from West Sacramento.
The deputy told the young men that he had smelled marijuana coming from the car, and asked them if there were any illegal drugs inside. Cabrera volunteered that there was just a little pot, and nothing else. The deputy asked if he had their permission to search the three of them, and they all gave their consent. He did not find any weapons or drugs on them.
When asked who owned the car, Cabrera also said it was his, and gave the deputy permission to search the vehicle. Meanwhile, perhaps to Cabrera’s surprise, a K-9 unit arrived to assist, and the deputy deployed his dog to help with the inspection. Crystal Methamphetamine doesn’t give off a strong smell to humans, especially when sealed, but it is easy work for a trained police dog. The canine deployed in this case was a rookie, newly assigned to patrol by Sheriff Rivero. He proved he was ready for the job, and soon gave a positive alert – usually a focused point of the nose and a wagging of the tail – to the front passenger seat. There was a lock box under the seat, which was secured.
The deputy had noted, however, that Cabrera had a lanyard around his neck with a set of keys, and he used one of them to open the box. There were two plastic bags filled with white crystal meth, along with a meth pipe inside. The total was later weighed at 7.75 ounces, with a street value of $22,000.00. True to their word, there was also a bit of marijuana in the car.
Since the car and lock box were his, Cabrera was the only one of the three arrested. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance for use and sale, transportation of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and being under the influence. Carbrera had been previously arrested last October for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Tory Hogan has his own record with the Sheriff’s office. He has been arrested several times in the past few years, including an incident in October of 2012 when he was charged with possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance, driving without a license, and evading officers. This time, however, he and Symon were released without charges.