At about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, Sgt. Johnathan Jones of the Sylva Police Department stopped a vehicle for speeding and crossing the center line of the roadway. The vehicle had just left an area west of downtown Sylva suspected of drug sales, according to a release from the department.
During the stop, the officer identified the driver as Luis Cortez, 34, of Smyrna, Georgia. He was the only occupant of the vehicle. He did not have a valid driver’s license.
Cortez said he had traveled from Georgia to Sylva to eat with a friend. The friend was someone suspected of being involved in drug sales in the community.
Jones had suspicions of possible drug activity. He requested assistance from a nearby Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy accompanied by a drug detection canine. As the officer continued conducting the traffic stop, the drug dog made a positive alert on the vehicle and a search was conducted.
The officer’s suspicions proved to be correct.
During the search, 125 grams of powder cocaine and about $25,000 in cash was found hidden inside the vehicle. The amount of narcotics has a street value of about $12,000.
Officers believe this individual is a supplier of illegal drugs to the community.
Cortez was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine by possession, trafficking in cocaine by transportation, maintaining a vehicle for controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving left of center, exceeding the posted speed limit and no operator’s license.
“This is a important part of our role as your police department,” Police Chief Chris Hatton said. “The transportation of illegal drugs into our town is of major concern. I am proud of my officer’s work during this investigation. I am also proud of the great partnership we have with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. They played a huge role in getting these illegal drugs off the street.”