A felony charge of methamphetamine possession was amended to a misdemeanor after it was discovered that a presumptive-positive drug test conducted at the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office provide false results and the substance found and tested was actually methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA, a non-narcotic controlled substance for which possession is a misdemeanor.
According to a probable-cause affidavit written by Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John H. Lowder III, Marisol Perez-Gamino, 20, was pulled over for allegedly driving 80 mph in a 65-mph zone on state Highway 75 on April 29. Perez-Gamino was allegedly driving without a valid driver’s license and was arrested for misdemeanor driving without privileges.
“During the inventory of the vehicle, Sgt. [Fabrizio] Lizano located a small Ziploc bag with approximately six rocks of a white crystalline substance in the trunk of the vehicle in a small backpack,” the affidavit states.
The substance was tested using a Nik Test U, a commonly used field test by law enforcement to presumptively identify substances suspected of being illegal drugs, according to Evident, a company that supplies law enforcement with forensic supplies and equipment. Following a presumptive positive test, the substance goes to a forensic lab to be tested using a more precise procedure.
However, according to Safariland Group, another company that provides equipment products to law enforcement, the Nik Test U provides presumptive identification of methamphetamine and MDMA, and another test, Test A, should be done prior to distinguish between the two.
“Test A should always be used prior to Test U, as color results for methamphetamine, amphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy) can be very similar,” the Safariland Group website states.
An amended criminal complaint was filed by the Prosecutor’s Office on May 9, charging Perez-Gamino with three misdemeanors: possession of MDMA, possession of paraphernalia and driving without privileges.
Prosecutor Matt Fredback said via email Thursday that he did not want to comment on a pending case but “generally the Nik test is performed first by the officers. If the Nik test is positive, that means the substance is either methamphetamine or MDMA. The substance is then sent to the lab,” which determined that the substance MDMA, not meth.