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Charlotte traffic stop leads to a pot bust

After almost hitting a Charlotte County deputy's cruiser yesterday evening, a convicted felon was pulled over and charged with intent to distribute marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.

As reported in an article earlier today on the ABC News 7 website, Monday at 6:53 p.m., a deputy watched as a Volvo pulled out of the Town Center Mall parking lot with three people inside.  While pulling out, the driver was using both hands to light a cigarette and was not wearing a seatbelt. According to the sheriff's office, the deputy was forced to stop his cruiser to avoid hitting the driver's side door.

A traffic stop was made in the Sprinkles parking area and deputies checked ID cards on the three in the car and found no warrants. The driver was 20 and the other passenger was 25-year-old. When Zaben got out of the car, he was asked if he could be searched and he refused. The deputy told him he was going to pat him down to see if there were any weapons on him.

When Zaben raised his hands above his head, the deputy saw a gallon-sized Zip-Lock bag hanging outside of his pants pocket and marijuana could be seen in the bag. Total amount of marijuana in the three bags was 40 grams.

Based on the location of the stop, deputies used Google Earth to determine it was 377.7 feet from school property that included the Charlotte County School Board building and Port Charlotte High School. Zaben was arrested and taken to the Charlotte County Jail.

He is charged with Possession of Marijuana Over 20 Grams, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute Within 1,000 Feet of a School, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Zaben, a convicted felon, remains in jail on $8,500 bond.

If you know anything about illegal drug activity, you're asked call the CCSO Narcotics Unit at 941-575-2157 or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).


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