BEAUFORT COUNTY - Deputies said they arrested two men after seizing almost 44 pounds of marijuana from their van in Beaufort County.
The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office told NewsChannel 12 that 43-year-old Jose Luis Ortiz and 29-year-old Eduardo Alberto Rosales, both of Charlotte, were arrested on Sunday.
According to investigators, they received word that a large amount of marijuana was being distributed from a Beaufort County home. Deputies said they pulled over a van that was seen leaving from that residence. Rosales was the driver and Ortiz was the passenger, said investigators.
"The pair didn't have their story together," Captain Russell Davenport. "The passenger [Ortiz] claimed to not know the driver [Rosales]. And the driver claimed to not know the passenger." Investigators said this was a red flag that something was clearly wrong, and suspected the pair to be up to something.
Deputies said they soon learned that Rosales did not have a valid driver's license and that a smell of marijuana was coming from within the van.
Drug Unit investigators, including K-9 Elza, responded to the scene. They soon found compressed marijuana stuffed into a child's booster seat and marijuana bricks in wooden plaques inside the van, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"They tried to disguise it, they had put dryer sheets and also Clorox fabric sheets around it so the dog wouldn't detect it," Captain Davenport said. "But you can't fool the dog, you can maybe fool a human but not a K-9 dog."
Deputies said they seized nearly 44 pounds of marijuana in all, along with several thousand dollars in cash.
The street value of the drugs was 88 thousand dollars, according to Captain Davenport.
Ortiz and Rosales have each been charged with trafficking in marijuana by possession, trafficking in marijuana by transportation, and conspiracy to traffic in marijuana.
In addition, Rosales has also been charged with maintaining a vehicle to facilitate drug activity. Both suspects were being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center under $100,000 bonds.
Public records show Rosales has a misdemeanor for assault on a woman, and deputies tell us Ortiz is not a U.S. citizen. Deputies say Ortiz was deported to Mexico after a 2000 drug trafficking arrest out of Pitt County.