Iredell County authorities have arrested three people on drug-related charges and say one suspect tried to escape charges by swallowing several bags of heroin.
The three are accused by the sheriff’s office of being part of a drug ring, trafficking heroin from Mexico to Iredell County, by way of Charlotte.
Charged in the case were Michelle Harmon Price, 37, of Statesville; Kerri Leigh Riley, 28, of Troutman; and Lance Sigmon, 35, of Troutman.
The sheriff’s office says detectives received tips from several sources that the three suspects were connected to a Mexican cartel. After lengthy surveillance, deputies say, officers stopped Riley and Sigmon while they were returning from Charlotte -- on a trip to pick up heroin, investigators allege.
Detectives say they searched a residence on Goodman Road in Troutman, where Sigmon and Riley live. They reported finding 2 grams of heroin, drug paraphernalia, and $3,218 in cash.
Investigators say that while talking to Riley, they learned she had swallowed 10 balloons of heroin, weighing a total of 10 grams.
“Detectives obtained a search warrant for the contents of Kerri Riley’s stomach, to retrieve the 10 grams of heroin,” Sheriff Phil Redmond said.
The sheriff said Riley was taken to Iredell Memorial Hospital, where a procedure to empty her stomach was conducted. Redmond said the 10 balloons of heroin were recovered.
Sigmon and Riley each was charged with two counts of trafficking opium or heroin; two counts of maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance; and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. Each is being held under $25,000 bond and has an initial court appearance Wednesday.
Price was arrested in connection with the investigation, deputies say. She was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was jailed under $5,000 bond and made her first court appearance Tuesday.
Redmond said the investigation is continuing and that additional arrests are expected.
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