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    Posted March 2, 2009 by
    East Bend, North Carolina
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    Three drug busts in 3 weeks


    By Andy Matthews





    PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. - Area law enforcement officers announced today their third major drug bust in as many weeks, seizing two pounds of cocaine Saturday night and arresting three men who are in the Surry County Jail with bond set at $500,000 each.

    Surry Sheriff Graham Atkinson said today that Saturday's drug bust was another joint probe by multiple law enforcement agencies. On Friday, investigators seized 19 ounces of cocaine from a house in Mount Airy. And three weeks ago, officers discovered 840 pounds of marijuana in a storage building near Dobson.

    Atkinson said that the Yadkin Valley area continues to see a large flow of illegal narcotics. With each arrest, which often uncovers handguns and other weapons, law officers demonstrate their intention to crack down on what many say is becoming a drug epidemic.

    “This was another instance where we were able to keep a quantity of drugs out of Surry County ,” Atkinson said. “Doing so required interagency cooperation, but working together means that each of us makes our jurisdiction safer for the law abiding people who live there and a little less comfortable for those who want to deal drugs here.”

    Earlier today, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the BBC that the U.S. wants to increase the military assistance it provides Mexico against drugs trafficking. Gates acknowledged Mexico President Felipe Calderon's courageous effort against the cartels, saying that Washington is more prepared to help Mexico in its fight against the gangs, which control the flow of illegal narcotics.

    More than 1,000 people have been killed this year alone as the drug cartels in Mexico become increasingly violent.

    Local officers say they approached a silver 1997 Chrysler in a parking lot Saturday night near U.S. 52 and N.C. 268. A search of the vehicle netted the cocaine and a handgun.

    Santiago Doroteo Ayala, 28, and Jose Alberto Correa Tavares, 29, both of High Point, and Alberto Velazquez Sanchez, 25, who has no permanent address, were arrested at the scene. Each were charged with two counts each of felony trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy among themselves.

    In addition to the Surry County Sheriff's Office, officers with the Elkin Police Department, the Pilot Mountain Police Department, the Stokes County Sheriff's Department, and the State Bureau of Investigation assisted in the drug bust.

    Atkinson said that additional charges are expected.

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