CLEARLAKE – LAKE COUNTY – Perhaps it is because they are often clouded with the drugs they are carrying, or maybe they just have other things on their minds, but more and more often people who are caught transporting drugs are discovered because they make or display obvious vehicle violations, like they are just asking to be caught.
On Tuesday afternoon, according to Lt Steve Brooks of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, narcotics detectives driving along Phillips Avenue in Central Clearlake were passing 35th Avenue when they saw a white Chevrolet sedan pull out from 34th without stopping, running a posted stop sign. They followed as the car then abruptly turned right onto 32nd, accelerated quickly kicking up the dirt, and headed through the neighborhood at excessive speed. They attempted an enforcement stop and pursued, but were literally left in the dust, not wanting to continue a risky chase in such conditions.
With an alert was broadcast, however, and a sergeant with the Clearlake Police soon found the car and successfully stopped it on nearby Highway 53 and 40th Ave., just a few blocks away in central Clearlake. The detectives arrived soon as well, as they conducted the enforcement stop on the driver, 31-year-old James Remo Regalia of San Pablo, the East Bay Area city near Oakland. They asked him to step out of the car, and he told them that he was carrying marijuana.
Not satisfied with just that bit of information, the detectives called on their third partner, a Sheriff’s canine trained in drug detection. The dog was deployed to give the car a “sniff”, and raised an alert on the driver’s door and the trunk of the car. Once Regalia was informed that the dog had found something, he admitted that he also had an ounce of methamphetamine in the back seat. With probable cause clearly established, a complete search of the vehicle was undertaken.
The driver’s door pocket had a digital scale, along with a large bundle of cash – three stacks bound together. A backpack was found in the back seat, and it contained a tubular object wrapped in black tape, and two ziplock bags filled with a white granular substance. The mysterious tube held inside three bags of crystal meth. The detectives recognized the granular substance as a “cutting agent” – a substance mixed with meth to increase its weight prior to sales.
The trunk of the car was opened, and there were two large ziplock bags full of processed marijuana. There was a duffle bag full of men’s clothes, and three glass meth pipes. They also found in the truck what looked like a book, but was in fact a metal locking safe. The detectives pried it open to find another meth pipe, packaging material, a digital scale, a bag of blue pills (later identified as Diazepam, AKA Valium), and a prescription bottle with 119 Hydrocodone pills (not prescribed to Regalia).
Regalia was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, possession and sales of marijuana, possession of narcotics, and paraphernalia. His meth weighed in at 2.63 ounces, and marijuana at 11.64 ounces. His cash – $3,813.00 – was seized pending asset forfeiture if it is shown to be profit from illegal narcotics sales. Regalia has had a busy year – he was arrested in March by Concord police and in May by Martinez police, both times on drug charges. This is apparently nothing new to him – he has a string of at least four prior arrests dating back to 2007.