Man found with drugs in country illegally

Published 9:33 am Friday, June 21, 2019

SALISBURY — A man living in Rowan County who is in the country illegally faces years in prison after a roadside encounter with Rowan County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

About 11:30 p.m. June 18, deputies were called to Woodleaf Road in Woodleaf to investigate a report of a suspicious person on the side of the road.  

Deputies found Erick Gabriel Cuevas-Pastrana, 30, sitting in a grassy area near Wetmore Road. Cuevas-Pastrana said he was walking home after having a conflict with his girlfriend and had walked for seven hours.

Deputies offered Cuevas-Pastrana a ride and he agreed. They told Cuevas-Pastrana that before being allowed in the patrol vehicle, deputies would have to pat him down and search a black bag slung over his shoulder.

Cuevas-Pastrana asked why deputies needed to search the bag because, he said, there was nothing in it. Deputies told him that if he did not want them to check his belongings, he could continue walking.  

Deputies discovered that there was an active child-support warrant out for Cuevas-Pastrana. He was arrested. Deputies found a loaded 9 mm handgun, 102 grams of methamphetamine, scales, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his black bag. A small amount of meth was found in his jacket. The value of the methamphetamine was about $5,000, according to authorities.

Cuevas-Pastrana was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and carrying a concealed weapon. His bond was set at $25,000.

In a follow-up investigation, the Rowan County Detention Center staff screened Cuevas-Pastrana and determined he is a Mexican citizen and in the country illegally.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were notified and an immigration detainer placed on Cuevas-Pastrana. Investigators contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Greensboro about possible federal prosecution.

Because of Cuevas-Pastrana’s immigration status, he is prohibited from possessing firearms here.