Drug trafficking arrests made in Copeland

By Terri Flagg - tflagg@civitasmedia.com



DOBSON — After a year-long investigation, two Copeland community residents have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

The Surry County Sheriff’s Office had received citizen complaints and information that drugs allegedly were being sold from a residence located at 6124 Highway 268, Dobson.

One of the residents, Elias Junior Rodriguez, was targeted as a suspect.

On Aug. 12, county narcotics detectives, “acting on credible information,” conducted a vehicle stop on Rodriguez and his passenger, Emily Ann Prieto, who also lives in the residence.

A K-9 sniff and subsequent search of the vehicle allegedly yielded seven grams of marijuana packaged for sale as well as drug paraphernalia.

Both Rodriguez and Prieto were arrested at the scene and charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana paraphernalia and maintaining a drug vehicle.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the residence and during the raid discovered 253 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, several firearms and $4,000 in cash.

Rodriguez, 32, was charged with trafficking methamphetamine, maintaining a drug dwelling, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Prieto, 32, was charged with trafficking methamphetamine, maintaining a drug dwelling and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both suspects are in the custody of the Surry County Detention Center awaiting a Sept. 21 court date. Rodriquez is held under a $440,000 secured bond and Prieto under a $415,000 secured bond.

Sheriff Graham Atkinson described the investigation as “exhausting” in a statement released Monday.

“We’ve been working on this for a continuous year,” he said, noting that “specificity and credibility of information” are among several factors that can extend a narcotics investigation.

“Everybody in the community says ‘we know they’re selling drugs,’ but knowing it and proving it are two different things,” Atkinson said.

“Confidential informants aren’t the most reliable people in the world,” and neither are suspects, the sheriff explained.

“We don’t know they’re going to move a load of dope every Tuesday at 3 p.m.”

Atkinson also commented that the department “at any given time has dozens of these investigations going on, which are handled with a very, very small handful of people.”



By Terri Flagg


Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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