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Drug case challenged after video airs on YouTube

Posted May 13, 2008
Updated May 14, 2008

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— The biggest drug bust in Lee County may be in jeopardy because crime-scene video appeared on the Internet.

Worth nearby $5 million, 1,900 pounds of marijuana was seized on White Road near  U.S. Highway 15/501 on Jan. 25. Instead of being submitted into evidence, the video turned up on YouTube.

Investigators, prosecutors and defense attorneys claim they didn't even know the video existed until word spread that it was online.

“It's my understanding that there were two Sanford police officers who came to the scene and did record part of the crime scene,” Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said.

Carter said he does not know what the officers were doing there. Federal and state agents were on the scene, he said, but local police were never called.

"I'm upset that this happened,” Carter added.

Auturo Elizalde, 27, and Thomas Ayala, 32, were arrested during the bust.

"I couldn't believe that there was a videotape that had not been given to me,” defense attorney George Whitaker said.

Whittaker, who represents Ayala, filed a motion in court Tuesday, asking for the case to be dismissed. The motion argues that the video – which he said could help clear Ayala – should have been submitted as evidence.

“This video, showing the efforts that the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents had to go (to), to fish packages of marijuana out of the boxes, would tend to corroborate Mr. Ayala's position ... that he didn't know there was marijuana in those boxes,” Whitaker said.

The sheriff disagrees.

“I feel like it's not going to have any bearing on the case. It's not going to change the fact that these individuals were caught in possession of marijuana. But that is going to be ultimately up to the courts to decide,” he said.

The drug bust was part of a joint investigation with ICE, a federal agency, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The marijuana was tracked from Mexico to Lee County.

The video has been removed from YouTube.  The officer who submitted the video is no longer with the Sanford Police Department. Officials withheld his name.

Elizalde and Ayala are each being held on $500,000 bond.

73 Comments

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  • greywolf30 May 21, 2008

    DON'T START NOTHING WANT BE NOTHING........ WISE MAN SAY YOU BURN YOUR BRIDGES AROUND YOU,YOU WILL SELF DESTRUCT!!!!!OPPS TO LATE

  • greywolf30 May 16, 2008

    You know this is some funny stuff. 4 more yrs i don't think so and if so glad I don't live there.ha ha.....

  • scsaleen2002 May 15, 2008

    by the way LC you keep talking about people wasting money does MR. Coble know what you're doing on his time? Lee Christian sure enough doesn't have as much money as Lee County has to "waste". One more thing, how's that criminology degree working out for you being a secretary? You sure are doing UNC-W proud

  • tgoodman37 May 15, 2008

    hford29...Im not sure I understand all this comic book stuff but I can tell you that this ole' dog has been around "poly-ticks" for a long time. If arrest are up, they attack the crime rate. If the crime rate goes down, they attack conviction rates. If the conviction rates are good they start with the personal attacks. Its the same old song and dance. I have gone back and looked at LCSD's prior post. I notice their "rage" over the Sheriff's dept but I also notice how they dodge the same issues with the SPD. I wonder why.. It's so obvious that this person has a personal axe to grind. Take it from the ole' dog... and let them talk. The more they talk, the more they help Sheriff Carter. Folks around here don't want to hear that noise. They want to see a sheriff at least making an effort and not bowing down to Ole' Ronnie boy, not about some possible child or kids in cars. LSCD-you want to save taxes. Call your commisioner and tell him to cut out some of that waste they pass every year.

  • hford29 May 15, 2008

    I forgot to ask LCSD where I could get that deputy job at that he/she mentioned. tgoodman you make a good point about dirty politics. I dont care what these people say about rumors such as conviction rates, those people should go sit in court and see for themselves how things work. All i know is I see way many more bust that the previous city county drug unit. Prior to the separation I never read about any bust, oh wait a minute I do remember a couple, I think they where every four years. Oh yeah and by the way LT.Einhorn those comic book characters, renta cops, and metal detector guards must of toughened up cause they sure have kicked alot you know what since they have been in office.

  • tgoodman37 May 15, 2008

    LCSD- If you have video of a deputy committing a crime, I and most of the public want to see it. But riding kids from school in a county car is not illegal. And our public workers waste a whole lot of money every day (a lot more than a little gas) Trust me on this one.....Second, if you think that finding some long lost child is gonna help your positions, trust me again, it won't. Look at Donnie Harrison in Wake County. It will be viewed as dirty politics and will help Sheriff Carter more than hurt him. And conviction rates are in the eyes of the beholder. Many drug charges are dismissed against defendants because they agreed to work for the police and give up a bigger fish. Unless the Sheriff or DA is willing to give you this information,(it's not public)it won't fly.I'm willing to bet that Sheriff Carter has way more convictions than dismissals.You say tomato, they are gonna say tomoto... If you want to unseat Sheriff Carter, I hope you have a whole lot more than this...

  • URADA May 15, 2008

    "illigitimate children (no proof)kids riding to school (no proof) conviction rates(but no proof)"

    Riddle. (proof) I own a digital camera. (proof) Public record at the courthouse. (proof)

    Now, where is your proof? Oh, yeah, it's coming. Kinda like how y'all "solved" the Michelle Bullard case. What a complete joke that was on TV! You and Mr. Horner, 2 cupcakes in a pod.

  • URADA May 15, 2008

    "larry dale riding all over the state in his city ride, big dan and the TNT boys doing the same, or how 'bout Captain Smith and his bride ... KB and his wife really need to stop listening to Jane Rae,the Rickard boys.....Yes Big Ed and J.R., the Rickard boys, maybe a couple guys at Pittsboro PD, but thats about it. Even SPD "don't want to go there" if you know what I mean. The average citizen (the ones I talk to every day), does not care. They recognize that you (and those that talk like you, like Lowell Rickard) are a bitter person bent on revenge."
    Ok I have no idea who these people are but I hope to get to know them since they must know what I know.
    And Yes, the average citizen does care how our tax money is spent! BTW, keep your kids buckled up good, you wouldn't want to have another wreck with them in the sheriff's car.
    What is the revenge against? You must have done somethhing far worse than I know to be so paranoid aboout revenge.

  • hford29 May 15, 2008

    LCSDajoke: One more thing. The reason nobody's answering "the burning question" (as you put it) is because nobody cares. Yes Big Ed and J.R., the Rickard boys, maybe a couple guys at Pittsboro PD, but thats about it. Even SPD "don't want to go there" if you know what I mean. The average citizen (the ones I talk to every day), does not care. They recognize that you (and those that talk like you, like Lowell Rickard) are a bitter person bent on revenge. Do me a favor. Print this page and stick it on your frige so that you can remember it down the road. If KB runs again, he will lose by at LEAST 2-1. And Mrs. KB will lose by 4-1 if she runs against Mrs. Olive. All they are doing is wasting the Kellers money. You heard it here first...

  • hford29 May 15, 2008

    LCSDajoke: Oh...now you want proof. All you talk about is conviction rates(but no proof)illigitimate children (no proof)kids riding to school (no proof). Whats up? We'll the proof about the conviction rates I'm told is coming. You will get to see them soon. And if you were really worried about your tax money,you would be talking about larry dale riding all over the state in his city ride, big dan and the TNT boys doing the same, or how 'bout Captain Smith and his bride who has been riding around in a city car for years. City officers working private jobs while they are "on the clock" with SPD. It clear that you are a fraud and are REALLY worried about your tax money. You are a KB supporter just slinging some mud. At least be man (or women) enough to admit it. I read today about mrs. KB running for mayor. I almost fell out of my chair laughing so hard. Talk about a public flogging! KB and his wife really need to stop listening to Jane Rae,the Rickard boys and Chief Ronnie

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