08/27/08 — Five pounds of crystal meth in suspect's car wheel

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Five pounds of crystal meth in suspect's car wheel

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 27, 2008 1:52 PM

DUDLEY -- Jose Alejandro Arcieniega-Moreno was reportedly nervous when Sgt. Mike Cox pulled him over on U.S. 70 West Saturday.

Police say that nervous behavior is what led them to discover five pounds of crystal methamphetamine in a compartment above the right rear wheel of Moreno's Chevrolet Suburban.

Moreno, 27, of Baker Chapel Church Road, Mount Olive, was jailed under a $1 million bond for trafficking meth, with one count each qualified by transportation and possession.

Cpl. Jerry Maxwell described the stop.

"He (Cox) talked to him for a few seconds, and felt like something wasn't right. They asked permission to search the vehicle, he gave it."

The crystal methamphetamine -- a purer form of the dangerous drug than the powdered methamphetamine most often found by county and Goldsboro drug agents -- wasn't out in the open.

Cox had to remove a piece off the top of the side compartment above the right rear wheel, where he located the stash of illegal drugs.

Lt. Chris Worth said crystal methamphetamine is less commonly found than its usually less-potent cousin, powdered methamphetamine.

"It (crystal meth) is here, but we haven't seized a bunch of it," Worth said.

The potential street value of the seizure is about $250,000, and equaled about 22,400 "dosage units," each weighing about one-tenth of a gram.

Cox, Worth and Maxwell are members of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office Aggressive Criminal Enforcement, or A.C.E., team.

Members of that team receive extensive highway interdiction training that teaches them to look for signs of the transport of illegal drugs.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive, dangerous drug produced in clandestine labs that can explode and expose people to toxic chemicals.

Some of the chemicals and products used in meth manufacturing include gasoline additives, paint thinner, acetone, chloroform, camp stove fuel, lye, drain cleaner, battery acid, lithium, antifreeze and others, according to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper's office.

"Meth has devastating effects on an addict's mind and body. It ... raises their blood pressure, placing extraordinary strain on the user's body. Ingestion of a single dose ... can cause a heart attack or a stroke," according to a publication from Cooper's office.