Three Lincoln County men, including a bail bondsman, woke to SWAT officers at their homes Thursday morning after deputies said they received word from community tips that the suspects had been harboring and selling marijuana and methamphetamine.
According to Lt. Jason Reid, head of the county drug division, investigators have had their eyes on the men for close to a year, receiving complaints from residents that the men had been dealing drugs.
SWAT officers, assisted by Catawba County drug investigators, responded to each of the suspects’ residences, taking them all into custody by 6:30 a.m., an hour-and-a-half after deputies met for a briefing, a Sheriff’s Office press release said.
Bail bondsman Alvaro “Pito” Iriarte Jr., 40, of 4382 Maiden Highway in Lincolnton, was handcuffed for allegedly possessing and selling methamphetamine.
He serves as a bondsman in Lincolnton but previously worked out of the Newton-Conover area, Sheriff David Carpenter said.
Prior to arresting Iriarte Thursday morning, investigators charged Jordan Ray Vanzandt, 21, of the 5600 block of Nora Drive in Iron Station, and Antoine Depray Jackson, 42, of 376 Turner Street in Lincolnton.
Vanzandt faces one felony count of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and one misdemeanor count each of simple possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Jackson faces one felony count each of possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture marijuana, possession of marijuana exceeding 1/2 ounce and maintaining a dwelling/vehicle for a controlled substance. Deputies also charged Jackson with one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Iriarte is accused of one felony count each of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a schedule II controlled substance and maintaining a dwelling/vehicle for a controlled substance. An additional misdemeanor charge for possessing drug paraphernalia was filed against him, the release said.
Reid, who said he was “pleased” with Thursday’s drug bust, in which no injuries occurred, reminded residents to continue calling in information to the Drug Tip Line at (704) 736-8606 or (704) 736-8422.
“Some items fly below the radar until we are made aware by our community that certain things are going on,” he said.
Reid noted that even though the drug seizures from this week’s bust proved minimal compared to previous operations, the suspects had enough illegal substances in their possession for deputies to charge them with felonies.
“You don’t have to sell 40 keys (kilos) to be a drug dealer,” he said.
While Iriarte has since been released from the county jail on a $10,000 bond, Jackson currently sits under a $40,500 bond. Vanzandt’s bond amount was not available at time of publication.
Each of the three suspects is set to appear in district court today on the charges — two of them no strangers to the law, according to the North Carolina Department of Correction website.
Jackson has similar drug-related offenses on his record which stem from last year in Lincoln County. NC DOC also revealed he was found guilty of manslaughter in Mecklenburg County in 1991 along with two separate instances each of illegal possession of a firearm in 1998 and 2000 and drug possession in 1996 and 2005.
Jackson was most recently released from prison in January, NC DOC listed.
Iriarte received a misdemeanor conviction nearly a decade ago in Catawba County for assault with a deadly weapon.
He was additionally accused of improper bail bonding activities in March 2011, according to the N.C. Department of Insurance. He allegedly aided and abetted an unlicensed bondsman and illegally wore a badge which resembled that of a law enforcement officer’s.