Lincoln County Sheriff’s narcotics investigators said they have encountered methamphetamine more frequently over the last six months, with the most recent encounter taking place this week during a traffic stop along U.S. 321.
Deputies said they located three ounces of crystal methamphetamine, also known as “ice,” around noon Tuesday inside a green Toyota Corolla traveling north near the highway’s Lincoln-Catawba line.
The drug’s weight meets the federal threshold for trafficking and is considered a “significant seizure,” deputies said.
The driver, 36-year-old Rigoberto Gomez-Contino, of Hendersonville, was charged in the incident. The man told officers he was headed to a friend’s house that afternoon.
During a search of the vehicle, officers said they found the illegal substance stuffed inside a blue teddy bear that had been buckled into a car seat in the back seat.
The drug was separated into three separate plastic baggies.
Catawba County Sheriff’s deputies assisted Lincoln investigators in the search and arrest.
The suspect’s vehicle has since been taken to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office impound lot and the meth sent to a state lab headed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), where the substance’s purity will be determined.
Depending on how the drug is packaged and sold, investigators said it’s worth between $6,000 and $12,000.
Gomez-Contino faces multiple felony charges in the incident including one count each of maintaining a dwelling/vehicle for a controlled substance, trafficking methamphetamine and possession with intent to manufacture a schedule II controlled substance, according to the jail site.
He is currently being held without bond with a first court appearance set for today.