Local News

200 Kilos Of Cocaine Seized In Sampson County

Posted January 25, 2006

— Investigators arrested two people and seized tens of millions of dollars worth of cocaine in what could be the biggest drug bust in Sampson County history.

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On Monday, Alejandro Moreno-Salgado, 27, of Harrells and Isais Mareno-Ochea, 41, of Rose Hill were taken into custody as a result of the seizure on Edmond Matthis Road in Sampson County. Authorities said they expected to find some cocaine there, but not 200 kilos worth.

"I had no idea," said Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton.

The drugs found measured out to around 440 pounds, with a street value of $20 million. That was more illegal drugs than were found in the county during all of 2005.

"It was our largest (bust) ever," said Thornton.

"Through the dedication and hard work of the men and women involved in the investigation, a crippling blow was dealt to drug traffickers in southeastern North Carolina," Thornton said. "Over 200 kilograms of cocaine didn't make it into the hands of someone's child or loved one. We've turned up the heat on drug dealers and we will continue to turn it up even more.

"The citizens of Sampson County will not stand for this type of activity in our commuities," he said.

But the bigger story is the overall drug trade in Sampson County. A place known for hog farms has a huge illegal industry under its nose. The reason is its hundreds of miles of roads -- major roads like Highway 421, Interstate 40, and Highways 24, 701, and 403.

"Look at a county map," said Thornton. "We're in a place between so many places, all sorts of people come here with bad things on their minds."

Investigators said that because they target Interstate 95 so heavily, drug traffickers are setting up shop farther away.

Five agencies teamed up for the bust. They won't say how long they worked the case before making their move

Moreno-Salgado and Mareno-Ochea are in the Sampson County Jail, facing drug trafficking charges. Moreno-Salgado's bond is set at $1 million and Mareno-Ochea's bond is set at $450,000.


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