HENDERSON, N.C. — Vance County deputies are taking the lead from surrounding agencies. They have begun targeting suspected drug haulers on Interstate 85.
The new program already is getting results.
A couple of Henderson police cars parked along I-85 Tuesday and watched the traffic. A speeding automobile zoomed by, and the chase was on.
The driver was stopped for speeding on the interstate. A police dog sniffed out something more.
The driver was arrested for possession of marijuana.
That is what law enforcement calls drug interdiction.
"I-85 is carrying drugs to all parts of the east coast," Vance County Sheriff Thomas Breedlove said. "Some of it's stopping here. Others are going north and south."
Henderson Police Chief Glen Allen said drug smugglers are clever at how they conceal their stash.
"We've found some hidden compartments," Allen said, "removal of equipment off the vehicle, leaving an open, hidden location to store drugs, weapons or contraband."
At least one Vance County commissioner is not thrilled about the sheriff's new direction.
"I do believe the interstate should be patrolled by the state," said Comissioner Tim Pegram. "I think the counties have enough to do without getting out on the interstates."
Nudged by the success of Johnston County with drug interdiction on I-95, Sheriff Breedlove and Chief Allen are giving the I-85 corridor through Vance County higher priority.
"The action of Johnston County has probably turned a lot of people down the I-85 corridor," Breedlove said.
Johnston County reportedly seized more than $335,000 on top of drugs last year. Some of that money helps buy police gear. And Johnston County is where Vance County law-enforcement officers will get their training on drug enforcement.
The Vance County commissioners agreed to give Sheriff Breedlove $15,000. The money would cover video cameras inside cars working I-85 and deputy training.