JCSD seizes $5 million in heroin, coke,
fentanyl bound for Big Apple
It was a Good Friday for local law enforcement and a really, really bad day for a couple of would-be drug smugglers who were bound for The Bronx from the border.
The Jones County Sheriff's Department seized $5 million in illegal narcotics from a secret compartment of a Jeep Gladiator after a late-night traffic stop on Interstate 59 resulted in the arrest of two women - Deyci Delapaz, 32, of McAllen, Texas and Anagabriela Pena, 18, of Bronx, N.Y.
Both were charged with aggravated drug trafficking and were booked into the Jones County Adult Detention Center to await their initial appearances in justice court today (Saturday).
It's the biggest bust of the Sheriff Joe Berlin era and among the largest local busts in memory, longtime law enforcement personnel said.
But one of the newest officers was key in finding the stash of 55 pounds of packaged suspected heroin/fentanyl and cocaine -
The two women were northbound on Interstate 59, just past Sandersville, when JCSD interdiction officers stopped the Jeep for careless driving just after 10 p.m. Thursday.
There were several "indicators" that the two may be up to something, Sgt. Jake Driskell of the JCSD Narcotics Division said.
"They were both nervous, and they had conflicting stories about what they were doing," he said.
The pickup had a Georgia license plate, but the women were from other states.
At first, they gave consent to search the vehicle, "then they rescinded it," Driskell said.
That's when Balder and Bell were called to the scene. The K9 - which just joined the JCSD a few months ago - indicated that there were drugs in the vehicle. So the JCSD had it towed to its training center, where it underwent a thorough search and the drugs were discovered in the predawn hours Friday.
"It was a very elaborate secret compartment" in a "natural void" of the floorboard area, Driskell said. "It took time to find it. If not for the knowledge of the interdiction team, the officers and the K9, this bust wouldn't have happened. This was the result of good old-fashioned policework and teamwork. It's one of the largest seizures ever around here."
The women were reportedly traveling from Texas to New York. The charge is aggravated trafficking because of the large amount, and if convicted of that, they would face a minimum of 25 years in prison. It's possible that they could face federal charges.
The bust is the result of the work of experienced officers, Berlin said.
"Taking this much drugs off the streets probably saves a lot of people's lives," he said. "These guys work tirelessly at all hours to curtail the drug problem. Thumbs up to them. They found a hidden compartment that's more complex than most we see. Experienced officers and a K9 were instrumental in making this happen."