During a weekend traffic stop, deputies located $1.5 million worth of heroin traveling into St. Tammany Parish. Deputies also confiscated more than $23,000 worth of gift cards believed to be the proceeds from illegal activity after stopping another vehicle on Monday.
Late Saturday afternoon, deputies with the STPSO Highway Enforcement Unit stopped two vehicles that were travelling together eastbound on Interstate 12.
The drivers of the two vehicles, both nonresident aliens, provided deputies with vague explanations of a beach vacation, but their stories did not add up.
With the assistance of K9 Nero and K9 Echo, deputies searched both vehicles, uncovering 7.6 pounds of pure heroin hidden inside one of the vehicles. This is the largest single seizure of this deadly drug in St. Tammany Parish history, and this amount of heroin has a street-level value of approximately $1.5 million. A post-stop investigation led deputies to believe the drugs were not just passing through and were destined for sale in St. Tammany Parish.
Both drivers were arrested in connection with the seizure and are being held on a $750,000 bond for possession and conspiracy to distribute heroin as well as the traffic violations.
On Monday afternoon while patrolling Interstate 12 near Lacombe, deputies with the Highway Enforcement Unit conducted a traffic stop on a rental vehicle for improper lane use.
A consensual search of the vehicle uncovered 100 gift cards hidden throughout the vehicle. The gift cards were loaded with a total of approximately $23,250.
Neither the driver, Carlos Sanchez-Rodriguez, nor his son, Jose Carlos Sanchez-Perez, claimed ownership of the gift cards.
A post-stop investigation discovered the two were on a two-day turn-around trip from Texas and the gift cards were suspected proceeds from illegal activity.
The gift cards were seized by detectives with the STPSO Narcotics Division and both occupants were released, with Carlos Sanchez-Rodriguez being issued a citation for the traffic violation.
Sheriff Randy Smith praised the Highway Enforcement Unit for its constant proactive enforcement on the interstate system as well as the Narcotics Division for its efforts in getting dangerous drugs off our streets.
“With the abuse of heroin and the lethal overdoses that occur every day in the United States, this undoubtedly was a significant amount of heroin that was interdicted from hitting the streets of St. Tammany,” Sheriff Smith said. “Last year alone, this parish saw 80 deaths from heroin overdoses. I am sending this message now; I will not tolerate individuals bringing this deadly drug into our community.”