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Photo courtesy of Boone Police Department.

Originally published: 2013-01-28 11:48:27
Last modified: 2013-01-28 11:58:13

Three charged with trafficking cocaine

by Staff Reports

The Boone Police Department arrested three people Thursday and seized approximately two pounds of cocaine after an investigation the police chief called "one of the largest powder cocaine cases ever worked in this area."

A lengthy, multi-agency investigation began after narcotics officers received information that Boone resident Ramses Lopez was part of a large-scale drug trafficking organization, according to police. Police believe that Lopez was importing narcotics into the area and working with other people from different parts of the state.

Undercover officers made several purchases of drugs from targets within the distribution ring, according to Boone Police Department.

"This type of investigation is very dangerous and labor-intensive," Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford said. "Because of complexity and jurisdictional issues, it takes many agencies working together to accomplish the mission."

"This case is one of the largest powder cocaine cases ever worked in this area, and I am proud of each officer that spent the long hours it took to shut this drug ring down," he continued. "Our citizens are safer as a result of this investigation."

The investigation included members from: Boone Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the State Bureau of Investigation, N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement, Beech Mountain Police Department, Ashe County Sheriff's Office and the Mooresville Police Department.

"The players in an organization of this scale are not unintelligent, and it can be tough to gather enough information to convict them in court," said Sgt. Chris Hatton of the Boone Police Department. "We are especially thankful to the Beech Mountain Police Department for their role in this investigation. Without them this case may have never happened."

The investigation came to a close when three suspects were arrested during a counter-drug operations in Boone that results in the seizure of more than one pound of powder cocaine, according to police. The drug had a street value of approximately $20,000.

The total amount of cocaine seized during the investigation is approximately two pounds and has a street value of $38,500.

Police arrested:

 — Ramses Nava Lopez, 40, of 851 Blowing Rock Road, Apt. 11, Boone.
 — Jose Ma Pineda Guzman, 49, of 247 McCoy Road, Apex.
 — Sonya Orrostieta Velazquez, 45, of 247 McCoy Road, Apex.

According to police, each was charged with trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. They were held at the Watauga Detention Center in lieu of a $100,000 secured bond.

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