Alexander County authorities say they have arrested a man who told officers he is a member of a Mexican drug cartel.
Calling it a break in “a large-scale drug trafficking operation,” the sheriff’s office says deputies arrested Jose Ivan Gallardo, 27, of Morganton, on Tuesday.
Gallardo might be in the United States illegally, the sheriff’s office says, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division is looking into the situation.
Authorities say a patrol sergeant with the sheriff’s office stopped Tuesday at a home in the 7000 block of N.C. 16 South, near the Alexander-Catawba county line, after seeing a car in the driveway. The sergeant said the man identified himself as Gallardo and said he was a caretaker at the residence.
During the conversation, the sergeant called for the canine drug detection unit. The sheriff’s office says the dog detected the presence of narcotics, and officers said they found about 16 grams of methamphetamine concealed in a baby diaper container.
Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman said the house where Gallardo was parked had been the subject of a six-month-long investigation and surveillance operation, and authorities say they suspected that Mexican nationals were using the house as a storage location to distribute drugs in Alexander and surrounding counties.
Armed with a search warrant, officers went into the house. During a search that took several hours, authorities say they found nearly a pound of crystal meth; some cocaine; heroin; and marijuana.
Gallardo has been jailed under $50,000 bond, charged with possession of a controlled substance.
The sheriff’s office says the investigation is continuing, with additional arrests possible.