By DEUCE NIVEN
Drug charges have been filed as an investigation continues into a large cache of personal documents discovered during a traffic stop in Tabor City on Friday, the Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene said in a news release Monday.
Two residents of New York City, a third from New Jersey were in the van a deputy stopped in the 10000 block of Joe Brown Hwy South, the news release said. That deputy “was on stationary patrol” when he made the stop “for a traffic violation,” the news release said.
In the vehicle were Jose G. Salazar, 49, and Cristine Somerville, 34, both of New York, New York; and Bruno M. Ferreira, 33, of Newark, New Jersey.
Salazar, who was driving, initially provided both false information and identification, the news release said. Somerville was in the front passenger seat, Ferreira was found on the floor of the van, not in a seat.
“Concerning behavior” observed by the deputy prompted him to deploy K-9 Cooper, the dog alerting twice on the van. All three occupants were removed, and deputies searched the vehicle.
“Meth and heroin were located inside of Somerville’s purse,” the news release said. “A glass pipe was located in the glove box.
“In the rear of the van, deputies located a bag of cocaine. In a side panel, deputies located a pipe and a bag of meth. The rear area of the van contained a large quantity of bags, some were locked. In one of those bags, another bag was located containing meth, multiple small bags, and three sets of scales with powder and crystal residue on all.
“In some of the other bags, deputies located multiple identifications, social security cards, cell phones, laptops, and a large quantity of USB drives. A breaking and entering toolkit was also discovered.”
Salazar, Somerville and Ferreira were arrested and taken to the Columbus County law enforcement center for interview, the van taken to the Sheriff’s Office for processing once a search warrant was obtained.
Inside one of the remaining bags were “hundreds of documents belonging to no one in the vehicle,” the news release said. “The documents contained personal information including birthdates, addresses, and credit card numbers.
“A notebook was also located with information detailing the suspects’ drug business.”
Each of the suspects told deputies they had traveled from New Jersey to Myrtle Beach.
Additional charges are possible as the investigation continues, the news release said. Initial charges included:
- Salazar: Felony counts of maintaining a vehicle to keep and sell a controlled substance, possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver a schedule 1 controlled substance; misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession; and citations for providing fictitious information to an officer and driving without a license.
- Ferreira: Felony charges of possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver schedule 1 and schedule 2 controlled substances; misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.
- Somerville: Two felony counts of possession of a schedule 1 controlled substance; one count of misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.
Bonds for Salazar and Ferreira were each set at $60,000; Somerville’s bail was $50,000.
Look for more on this story in this week’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.