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Three face drug charges; illegal aliens busted

Three men are facing drug charges following a Sunday morningtraffic stop that also uncovered 17 illegal aliens, said LincolnCounty Sheriff’s Department authorities.

Deputy David Johnson said he stopped a green van that wasdriving on the shoulder of the road near mile marker 37 onInterstate 55 around 10:38 a.m Sunday.

Of the van’s 18 occupants, 17 were illegal aliens. The van washeading to Atlanta for work for the illegals, Johnson said.

During a vehicle search, two small packages of cocaine werefound in a side panel, Johnson said. A misdemeanor amount ofmarijuana was found on one of the passengers during a search at thejail.

The van’s driver, Juan De Jesus Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 41, ofHouston, Texas, and German Velazquez-Medina, 34, of 121 Chapel St.,Clarkville, Tenn., the only non-illegal person, were charged withpossession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Fernando Luevandos, 32, of Houston, Texas, was charged withpossession of marijuana in a motor vehicle.

Jorge L. Mata-Ortiz, 36, address unknown, was charged withresisting arrest after running from the scene during the trafficstop. He was quickly apprehended, Johnson said.

The four men remained in jail Monday.

Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte said Immigration andNaturalization Service (INS) officials were contacted regarding theillegal aliens. However, due to manpower shortages, serviceofficials were unable to come to Lincoln County.

The 14 illegal aliens were then escorted to the bus station topurchase tickets to Atlanta.

“They were all released except the four we held on charges,”Johnson said.

The van remains at the sheriff’s department. Its status remainsundetermined, pending further investigation into possible drugactivity.

“This is something we just started,” Boyte said. “We won’t knowuntil we get further into it.”