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Expired car tag leads to heroin arrest
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A Maine man is in the Effingham County Jail on a handful of drug charges after his arrest Friday afternoon in Guyton.

Guyton Police Chief Randy Alexander said Michael Bellinger was arrested and charged with possession of tools for commission of a crime, possession of drug related objects, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute after the chief found around two dozen packets of heroin in Bellinger’s car.

The arrest stemmed when Alexander noticed a car in the Thompson IGA parking lot that had expired two-year-old Pennsylvania tags.

“Plus, it was bent,” he said of the license plate on the Ford Focus. “I drove around and waited to see who came to the car.”

The chief asked Bellinger if the car was his. Bellinger replied that the car belonged to a friend who went with his boss down the road to get a paycheck. He also said another friend was inside getting something to eat.

Alexander asked Bellinger what company it was. The answer was a company Alexander said he had never heard of.

“I called dispatch and they never heard of it,” Alexander said.

Alexander ran the car’s tag and it came back as valid. He later went back to the car and asked Bellinger if his friend had ever come out of the store. Bellinger said his friend “must have left when he saw me talking to you,” Alexander reported. Bellinger also said he had no reception on his cell phone, so he couldn’t call his friend whom he said owned the car.

Alexander said Bellinger had been by the car for more than an hour, but Bellinger said his friend had left him the keys so he could use the air conditioning. His friend had told him to wait there.

After another 45 minutes elapsed, Alexander noticed Bellinger was chain smoking and sweating profusely. When he asked for identification, Bellinger said he was a Savannah College of Art and Design student who had his wallet stolen in Savannah.

Then a wrecker pulled up to tow the car. The wrecker had been called by another wrecker company that was unable to take the call to retrieve the car. Alexander traced the call back to the original wrecker service — since Bellinger couldn’t release the car to the wrecker company as he claimed not to be the owner — and the call came from a Michael Bellinger who said his car was broken down.

The car turned out to be his, and Bellinger started to put his hands into his pockets. Alexander said he was going to pat him down for the chief’s own safety and asked if there was anything he should know before he began his search. Bellinger said he had a syringe in his back pocket. There was also another syringe in the car.

Alexander called for backup from other Guyton Police officers, and a search of the car revealed a bent spoon with a white, powdery residue, 20 to 25 packets of what is suspected to be heroin and a green bag with a crowbar, duct tape and a mask with holes cut for eyes, he said.

The packets and spoon were sent to the GBI crime lab to be tested.

The Guyton chief believes Bellinger may have been planning a crime in Guyton.

“I think we stopped something,” Alexander said. “A home invasion, a robbery, something.”