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NASHVILLE — Interstate crime hasn’t taken time off during the coronavirus pandemic, according to authorities.
“It’s still about gangs, guns and drugs,” said Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone, who formed the sheriff’s office Highway Interdiction Unit soon after taking office in 2014.
As part of his vision of combating illegal drug trafficking and violent crime, Stone said he felt his agency needed to stop drug traffickers before they reach Nash County communities. Since the the start, the Highway Interdiction Team has been part of the agency’s daily operations. Over the past month, the team has removed dangerous narcotics, weapons and armed traffickers from Interstate 95, said Sheriff’s Maj. Eddie Moore.
“Maintaining highway safety is a concern and looking beyond the traffic stop to ensure anyone involved in criminal activity is detected and prevented from continuing those illegal activities is important to public safety in our state,” Moore said.
Narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine are highly addictive stimulants that can have long-lasting effects on the body. Heroin is a deadly narcotic that slows the body’s function, which is responsible for numerous deaths in the area. Moore said perpetrators with long criminal histories continue selling drugs and committing other crimes.
“Professional traffic law enforcement not only saves lives from traffic crashes, but has been proven to be effective at preventing crime and saving lives from illegal activity,” Moore said.
During the last 30 days, the Highway Interdiction Unit developed the following cases derived from traffic stops along I-95:
• On May 20, deputies made a stop on I-95 near the Wilson County line. Deputies found two pistols inside the vehicle. One pistol had been stolen in Florida and had been used in a homicide. The occupants had extensive criminal records.
• On June 2, a traffic stop led to a driver being charged with possession of a firearm while being a convicted felon.
• On June 4, a driver fled a traffic stop in an attempt to elude arrest. After a brief chase, the driver pulled over and ran from the scene. Deputies found 140 grams (about 5 ounces) of cocaine and 72 Ecstasy pills in the vehicle. The driver was later charged with trafficking in narcotics.
• On June 8, deputies discovered 115 grams (about 4 ounces) of crystal methamphetamine and an assault rifle during a traffic stop.
• On June 18, deputies removed more than 500 bindles of heroin from a vehicle destined for Rocky Mount.
• On June 25, deputies located 93 grams (3.3 ounces) of heroin and fentanyl and a pistol in a vehicle that contained the driver’s two small children. The driver was a convicted felon with an extensive criminal history from multiple states.
These examples are just a few weeks’ worth of work the team has accomplished, Moore said.
“Our interdiction team has been working diligently for the last few years to combat gangs, guns and drugs that come through our area and ultimately infiltrate our neighborhoods,” Moore said. “This is only part of a multi-pronged approach that we use to combat these issues. We also continuously make multiple arrests through our patrol and narcotics divisions for these same issues, in order to ensure that quality of life issues are addressed by our agency, in order to try and allow our citizens to live in a safe and secure environment.”