• 2 men arrested in Catawba Co. with 14 lbs. of marijuana, $35K in cash


    HICKORY, N.C. - Deputies arrested two men at a motel in Catawba County on Monday who were found with over 14 pounds of marijuana and more than 34,000 in cash, officials said.

    Officials with the Catawba County Sheriff's Office said deputies from the Drug Task Force arrested Javier Gastelum Cisnero, 28, and Sulignaa Phommachanh, 35 -- both of Bakersfield, California -- after executing a search warrant at the Days Inn in Hickory.



    Authorities said the search warrant came after the Drug Task Force received information indicating that a vehicle in the motel's parking lot was possibly being used for drug trafficking.

    Investigators said they approached the vehicle and were given permission to search it, and found a package containing over 13 pounds of marijuana.

    Officials said that Cisnero, who was driving the vehicle, told deputies that he was staying in a room at the motel. Investigators said they went to Cisnero’s hotel room and found a second man, Phommachanh, inside.

    (Javier Gastelum Cisnero)

    Officials said deputies searched the room and found $34,791 in cash, a vacuum sealer and more marijuana. A total of 14.58 pounds of marijuana was seized at the motel, officials said.

    Cisnero and Phommachanh were taken to the Newton Magistrates Office and each were charged with one count of felony trafficking in marijuana, and one count of felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana. Both men have been placed under a $210,000 secured bond.

    (Sulignaa Phommachanh)

    "This is the second trafficking shipment of marijuana which our Drug Task Force has intercepted in the past month and a half,” said Jason C. Reid, with the Catawba County Sheriff's Office. “Large amounts of U.S. currency were seized during both searches as well. Trafficking amounts of marijuana continue to be shipped in from out of state, specifically California, into our communities. Drug dealers continue to use delivery services as a way of distributing illegal narcotics in our communities."

    Authorities said the investigation is still ongoing and additional charges may be filed.

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