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July 17, 2023

Fentanyl, Cocaine Found During Traffic Stop in St. Tammany

A North Carolina man was arrested over the weekend after he was found to be transporting a large cache of fentanyl and cocaine while traveling through St. Tammany Parish.

At approximately 11 p.m. Saturday (July 17, 2023), detectives with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Highway Enforcement Unit conducted a traffic stop on Interstate 12 east bound on a silver 2002 Lexus ES 300 who was observed speeding (81 MPH in a 70 MPH zone) and committing improper lane use.

The vehicle was occupied by 45 year-old Artavis Bethea of Lumberton, N.C., a female passenger and Bethea’s 14-year-old son. The occupants told detectives they were traveling from Texas to North Carolina. 

During the course of the traffic stop, K-9 Echo was deployed for a narcotics odor sniff of the vehicle. K-9 Echo provided a positive narcotics odor alert, resulting in probable cause for a vehicle search.

Upon searching the vehicle, detectives located several individual plastic bags with approximately 2.53 pounds of suspected cocaine, and one bundle containing approximately 2.59 pounds of a suspected cocaine and fentanyl powder mixture, inside the trunk of the Lexus. Bethea claimed ownership of all the narcotics and was personally found in possession of $2,446 believed to be proceeds from illegal narcotic transactions.  

Bethea was arrested on the charges of Speeding, Improper Lane Use, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule II CDS (cocaine), Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule II CDS (fentanyl), Transactions Involving Proceeds from Drug Offenses, and Cruelty to Juveniles.

The narcotics and currency were seized as a result of the investigation. 

“Our Highway Enforcement Unit and our Proactive Enforcement Unit have been very successful in making arrests and reducing the availability of dangerous drugs being dispersed in and traveling through St. Tammany Parish," Sheriff Randy Smith said. “Too often criminals attempt to use our local highways and interstates as passageways to transport illegal drugs. If you are found to be transporting drugs into or through our community, you will be arrested.”   

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