By Beth Lawrence

A Georgia couple could wind up facing federal charges following a drug bust last week.

Wayne Lee Kitchens, 46, of Bonaire, Georgia was arrested for two felony counts of trafficking methamphetamine, two felony counts of trafficking opium or heroin, one felony count of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to ½ ounce and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Stacey Ann Alexander, 33, of Warner Robins, Georgia was arrested for two felony counts of trafficking methamphetamine, two felony counts of trafficking opium or heroin, one felony count of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to ½ ounce and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The couple was arrested on the morning of Feb. 16 following a search of their vehicle during a traffic stop, said N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Andy Waycaster.

“We were just working the U.S. 441 area near the intersection of Garland Buchanan Road,” Waycaster said. “It was a traffic stop for a registration violation.”

During the routine stop the couple, purporting to be boyfriend and girlfriend, allegedly told Waycaster they were on the way home to Georgia from visiting Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Their behavior told Waycaster something different.

“Following up on some nervous indicators and conflicting stories and the driver refused consent to search, we deployed a K-9 and conducted a probable cause search,” Waycaster said.

The drugs were allegedly found in the vehicle’s cabin in a backpack.

The search turned up: 1,025 grams of methamphetamine, 21 grams of cocaine, 43 grams of heroin, ½ ounce of marijuana and digital scales.

The 2.26 pounds of meth, and the ¾ ounce of cocaine and the 1.5 ounces of heroin make federal charges a distinct possibility Waycaster said.

“That’s a substantial amount,” he said. “They were taken to the Jackson County Detention Center where they were charged just like anybody would be, unless it is federally adopted, which is a possibility.”

The incident is still under investigation, but Waycaster does not currently believe there are connections to anyone in Jackson County or anyone on the Qualla Boundary.

“There’s no indication of knowing which way it was traveling (either) to or from at this point,” he said.

Both Kitchens and Alexander are being held in the Jackson County Detention Center under a $1.5 million bond.

A criminal records search did not reveal convictions for either Kitchens or Alexander in North Carolina or Georgia.