• 59°

February joint drug operation leads to conviction for Baltimore man

Convicted

Octavio Lizarraga Ayala

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

A Baltimore man who was arrested in the February joint drug arrest operation called Operation Tarheel Gauntlet has been convicted and sentenced to four years in federal prison, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

The four-day operation on Interstate 85 by the Rowan and Iredell County sheriff’s offices drug interdiction team led to the arrest Octavio Lizarraga Ayala, 40, and three others. Ayala stopped in the southbound lane near mile marker 73 was stopped because he was following too close.

When the officer stopped the black Nissan, there was a package with gray duct tape and bubble wrap. The package was a plastic container with a lid that contained a strong odor of ammonia and a black granulated substance initially believed to be coffee grounds. According to Capt. John Sifford, the substance was actually black pepper and was being used to mask the odor of the drugs inside the container. The container held a brown crystal-like substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.

Officers seized the 2.2 pounds of meth after Ayala gave them consent to search the vehicle. Officers also found $2,326 in cash in the vehicle. Officers said that Ayala was traveling from Maryland to the metro Charlotte area. The value of the narcotics seized was about $100,000. 

Ayala was originally charged with two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine (Level III), possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a vehicle for keeping and selling controlled substances. He was held on a $520,000 secured bond. 

On Dec. 6, 2019, Ayala pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The order was signed by a judge on Dec. 20, 2019.

Sifford said, according to investigators, at the time of his arrest, Ayala said he had been in the U.S. on a visa, but had stayed past the approved date, and was in the U.S. in an illegal status. Ayala is a native of Sinaloa, Mexico, investigators said at the time of his arrest.

Comments

BREAKING NEWS

Rowan County reports 44 positive COVID-19 cases

Brincefield Cartoons

Mook’s Place: Small business smackdown

Crime

Police: Victim argued with someone before shooting in Jersey City neighborhood

Crime

Thieves hit 13 vehicles in three Salisbury apartment complexes

Columnists

Sharon Randall: Staying whole in hard times

Business

Local survey indicates most businesses impacted quickly by COVID-19

Education

Clad in protective gear, local foundation sends hams home with families for Easter

Coronavirus

Peace Corps volunteer’s job comes to abrupt end amid COVID-19 outbreak

Opinion

Talkback, what online readers are saying about …

College

Torbush: Third Hall of Fame for East Spencer native

Landis

Landis police: missing 13-year-old returns home

Coronavirus

Lawmakers hear about medical equipment shortage fears

Crime

Blotter: Kannapolis home broken into, vandalized

Sports

High school softball: Hornets had a shot at double-digit wins

Opinion

Quotes of the week: ‘Really need to stay in business’

Education

‘Let’s jam’: Knox Middle School party goes virtual during closure

Crime

Man listed in serious condition following Jersey City shooting

Crime

Man charged with manslaughter in death of stepfather

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in Rowan reach 37; nine have recovered

Business

Gerry Wood dealerships to close indefinitely during COVID-19 pandemic

Crime

Detention center officer assaulted during jail fight

Coronavirus

Contact information for COVID-19-related questions

Local

Novant Health picks Walgreens stores as drop-off points for supply donations

Education

RCCC donates medical equipment to local hospitals