Tests Absolve Smith County Couple of Crystal Meth Charges - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/24/03 - Smith County

Tests Absolve Smith County Couple of Crystal Meth Charges

A preliminary test completed on the day of their arrest confirmed a Smith County couple had methamphetamine inside their home.

Authorities arrested the couple, Gumecindo Silva (60) and his wife Deloris (40),  in December and charged them for possessing "Hawaiian Ice", a rare form of methamphetamine.

But Deloris Silva's defense attorney, Robert Perkins says the attention his client received was too much, too soon. Especially, since the Smith County District Attorney's office is dropping possession of a controlled substance charges against both of them.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Cassel, made that determination when DPS test results confirmed a rock found inside the couple's home was not meth, or any other type of narcotic.

"It's terrible when somebody's picture is on the front page of the paper, time and time again," says Perkins. "They were put under the banner of meth dealer or meth possessor. I don't know how you calculate that loss."

Perkins and Gumecindo's attorney, Guy Conine, are now questioning the integrity of preliminary drug tests used by authorities in the field. When the rock inside the Silva's home was first tested, it came back positive.

"It makes you ask the question, 'Are they not experienced enough to be doing these kinds of tests," says Conine. "Because, obviously, they were wrong in this case. It makes you wonder, how many other cases are wrong using these kinds of presumptive tests."

Smith County Constable Dennis Taylor and an investigator with the Sheriff's office performed the initial bust. Sheriff J.B. Smith says while it's not typical to get false results, it has happened before. Smith says the tests are temporary, and the DPS Crime Lab makes the final decision.

"Any preliminary test is going to be just a temporary thing until it gets to a chemist," Smith says. The families' attorneys say they're grateful the D.A.'s office dropped the charges as soon as the results came in. But Conine and Hawkins are still weary of the field tests.

The Smith County Sheriff's Department, like many others law enforcement agencies, uses pouch-like drug testing kits on the scene. Smith County uses a version of the kit called, NarcoPouch. To get a test result, investigators drop suspicious substances into a pouch filled with special chemicals. If the pouch turns orange, they have enough to arrest someone for methamphetamine.

The Silva family contested the charges, saying the rock found inside their home is a Mexican spiritual rock, commonly known as Alumbre. The rock is revered South of the border for its spiritual healing qualities. The family says you can buy it in traditional Mexican stores across the state. A relative of Gumecindo told Channel 7 in December that she gave him the rock as a gift.

In a phone interview, Smith County Constable, Dennis Taylor said an informant told authorities the family had meth inside their home. He added that Silva has a criminal history for marijuana possession.

The D.A.'s office confirms possession of marijuana charges are still pending against the couple.

But it looks like the charge they're most famous for is unfounded.

Kerri Panchuk, Reporting.

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