Four charged; $3.2 million in pot seized

Joint operation also nets $46,000 in crystal meth
Jan. 17, 2013 @ 05:30 PM

A joint investigation conducted by four different law enforcement agencies led to the discovery of $46,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine and $3.278 million worth of marijuana.

The Union County Sheriff's Office participated in a joint investigation with the Moore County Sheriff's Office, Monroe Police Department, and Marshville Police Department Wednesday, according to a statement from the Union County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives with the Union County Sheriff's Office have arrested three men in connection with the trafficking of controlled substances and felony conspiracy in a multi-county drug operation. A fourth man was arrested in Moore County in connection with the operation, according to the statement.

Those arrested in connection with the operation were Antonio Gaytan Lopez, 29 of 1120 Unarco Road, Marshville, Octavio Valdez Villa, 26, of 409 East Village Drive, Monroe, Alton Devonne Greene, 60, of 6215 East Lawyers Road, Monroe and Amador Villa Flores of 5018 Edith Oak Road, Wingate. Flores was arrested in Moore County.

A buy/bust operation conducted by Union County officers based on information provided by Moore County deputies led to the three Union County arrests. A large seizure of crystal meth in Moore County was also found to be linked to the investigation. Wednesday night, Moore County Sheriff's investigators contacted authorities in Union County after an undercover drug investigation led to the arrest of a man from Union County. Based on information provided by Moore County officers, Union County deputies found ties to two residential addresses. One address was in Marshville while the other was in Monroe. Monroe police and Union County Sheriff's deputies searched a residence at 409 East Village Drive in Monroe Wednesday night and gathered information and seized drug paraphernalia in the process. A similar search was conducted simultaneously at 1120 Unarco Drive in Marshville where Marshville police and Sheriff's deputies took two people into custody and seized more than a pound of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $46,000, $8975 in cash, three handguns and a rifle.  Lopez and Villa were charged in connection with these searches, according to the statement.

As the investigation continued overnight, a search warrant was drawn for a residence at 6215 East Lawyers Road, north of Marshville. At that residence, officers confiscated 745 pounds of packaged marijuana and four firearms. The current street value of the type and quantity of the marijuana found is $3.278 million. Greene has been charged in connection with the search of the residence, according to the statement.

"We appreciate the diligence of the Moore County Sheriff's Office in uncovering this criminal enterprise, and we are grateful that they passed information to us and provided assistance that led to these arrests and seizures. Likewise, we appreciate the assistance from the Marshville and Monroe Police Departments. Criminals don't recognize jurisdictional lines and it makes me proud that officers from four separate agencies can mobilize on short notice to bring down a major distribution operation like this," Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in the statement.

He sees the quantity of meth and marijuana seized in the investigation as unusual, Cathey said in the statement.

"Meth continues to be a significant problem in this region and it continues to impact crime at all levels," he said in the statement.

Lopez has been charged with conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine, trafficking in methamphetamine by sale, and trafficking in methamphetamine by delivery. He was placed under a $500,500 bond and has a March 12 court date.

Villa was charged with conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine, trafficking in methamphetamine by transportation, trafficking in methamphetamine by possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was placed under a $500,000 bond and has a March 12 court date.

Greene has been charged with trafficking in marijuana by possession, maintaining a dwelling for keeping or selling controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was placed under a $500,000 bond and has a Feb. 26 court date.

Flores has been charged with trafficking methamphetamine by possession, transport, deliver and sale, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, felony possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a vehicle for sale or possession of a controlled substance and resist, delay and obstructing an officer. He was placed under a $100,000 bond at the Moore County Jail.