DOBSON — Two Georgia men were arrested this week with more than 350 financial cards, 100 video games and $65,000 in cash.
The Surry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division was working Interstate 74 for a “drug interdiction.”
According to law enforcement publications, this includes making routine traffic stops, but with full attention paid to what else is going on with the driver, passengers and the vehicle itself. Small details about the car can alert an officer to a bigger problem.
On a traffic stop with an out-of-state vehicle, Sheriff Jimmy Combs said officers developed probable cause to search the vehicle which subsequently led to the seizure of a laptop computer, an iPad and an electronic device.
This device is capable of reading, erasing and rewriting credit and debit cards, explained Chief Deputy Lauren Osborne. It is used to load banking information on blank cards after someone’s identity has been stolen.
In addition, officers seized over 350 credit cards, debit cards and gift cards, along with more than 100 Redbox games, $63,531 in U.S. currency and fake driver’s licenses.
“Drugs are not the only thing being trafficked between our jurisdictional boundaries,” said Combs. “That is why interdiction operations are so important to law enforcement as well as partnerships with other local, state and federal agencies in this battle against major crimes.”
Combs added, “Surry County Sheriff’s Office investigators are now working with the United States Secret Service and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in this ongoing case, and additional charges will be filed.”
Richard Lee Hughes Jr., age 40, of 30 Ross Street NE, Rome, Georgia, received a $100,000 bond after being charged with the following:
• One count of felony identity theft (punishable by up to 80 months, depending on the impact on the victims);
• One count of felony conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense (a Class H felony with a 4- to 25-month sentence, depending on prior convictions);
• One count of felony possession of 5 counterfeit instruments (a Class G felony with a 10- to 25-month sentence);
Reginald Antoine Brown, age 41, of 4454 Thompson Mill Road, Decatur, Georgia, received a $25,000 bond after being charged with:
• One count of felony conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense.
So what kind of things do officers notice when performing highway interdictions?
According to multiple agencies questioned by website PoliceMag.com, these include:
• Religious artifacts. Drug traffickers may place religious stickers on the car or figurines on the dashboard in the hopes that cops will leave god-fearing people alone. Law enforcement stickers work, too.
• Windows that are overly tinted or blocked off to prevent looking inside.
• A lack of luggage. An out-of-state vehicle with only an overnight bag for two grown men doesn’t sound like a real vacation.
• A car guard. When they stop for food/gas or at a rest stop, the crew refuses to leave the car unattended and goes to the bathroom in turns.
• Strong smells. Some use new air fresheners or perfumes to try to mask the odor of something they are hauling, especially just as they are pulled over for a stop.
• Signs of drug use. Many times the people transporting the drugs are users themselves, so officers need to rely on their training at detecting use.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.