Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1.5 pounds of marijuana mailed to apparent wrong address

Police use seven detectives in undercover sting operation to arrest man claiming to be intended recipient of package

Posted by Paul Bowers on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Charleston police confiscated a pound-and-a-half of marijuana that was shipped to a private business and then used a decoy package to arrest a man who called to say the package belonged to him, according to an incident report.

On Dec. 20, according to the report, a courier dropped off a UPS package at ECig Charleston at 1836 Ashley River Road. Following company policy, an employee later told police, no employees opened the package until a manager was present. On Dec. 22, with management in the building, an employee opened the box and found 1.5 pounds of what looked like marijuana. The bottom of the box was reportedly addressed to Walter Vetsch of 948 Battery Ave., Charleston. The employee called police to make a report.

According to the employee, about five minutes after she opened the box, a man identifying himself as Walter Vetsch called the business and said that a box belonging to him had been delivered to the wrong address and that he wanted to come pick it up. The employee told him she did not know where the box was, but she wrote down his name and phone number.

The Charleston Police Department sent out an officer to confiscate the box and then set up an elaborate sting operation. On Dec. 23, a special investigation unit composed of seven detectives conducted what the report describes as a "controlled deliver." They constructed a box identical to the one that had been shipped and placed it at the store. One of the officers, operating undercover with video and audio surveillance in place, waited at the store for Vetsch to arrive. When a man walked in, the officer took a look at his driver's license, which identified the man as 61-year-old Walter Joseph Vetsch, and got him to sign a receipt before taking the package. After Vetsch left the business, the detective called in a two-officer takedown unit that stopped Vetsch and arrested him before he could get to his vehicle.

After being read his rights, Vetsch reportedly told the officers that a friend in California named Steve had asked him to pick up some weed that he was shipping to Charleston. The report is unclear on whether the sender meant to ship the marijuana to the business. According to the incident report, Vetsch said he told his friend Steve, "This better not go wrong, or I will be pissed."

A manager at ECig Charleston could not immediately be reached for comment.

An earlier version of this post included a mugshot provided by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office of the wrong person. We regret the error.

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