(10-20) 12:11 PDT ROHNERT PARK -- A Rohnert Park man who had been accused of trying to smuggle marijuana inside a teddy bear has been cleared of the charges by a Sonoma County Superior Court judge, who faulted police for not obtaining a search warrant before cutting open the stuffed animal.
Judge Cerena Wong suppressed evidence in the case Thursday against Gilberto Perez Pereira, 43, and also dismissed charges against him in connection with police finding methamphetamine at his apartment.
Pereira and his girlfriend Susan Janette Roark, 48, were arrested Aug. 12 after the owner of a shipping store opened a package Pereira was sending and found a teddy bear with crude stitching covering a cut in the fabric.
Rohnert Park police later opened the stuffed animal and found a ball consisting of 30 feet of cellophane layered with yellow mustard and powdered carpet deodorizer surrounding a heat-sealed package of nearly a pound of marijuana, authorities said.
Police said drug dealers commonly use such packaging to put narcotics- sniffing dogs off the scent.
The owner of the store told police he had grown suspicious of Pereira because he had been sending overnight packages every two weeks for several months to different addresses in Wisconsin.
Drug-related charges also were dropped against Roark.