Deputy: Agents recover 2 kilos of cocaine during scheduled bus stop in St. George

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ST. GEORGE — A man is in jail following a federal criminal interdiction operation involving multiple agencies that netted roughly 5 pounds of suspected cocaine at a Washington County bus stop.

2022 file photo of deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Washington County, Utah, May 22, 2022 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

On Thursday, a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy working an interdiction operation with Homeland Security Investigations approached one of the area shuttles during a scheduled stop in St. George, according to the affidavit filed in support of the arrest.

A K-9 was deployed to conduct a free-air sniff around the exterior of the bus and the luggage stored in the vehicle. The animal alerted officers, indicating the possible presence of narcotics.

The search of a bag yielded nothing illegal, but agents were then advised that the bag’s owner was seen speaking with another male as the passengers exited the bus. The pair were then seen walking quickly through the parking lot into a back alley where they continued into a neighborhood nearby.

Meanwhile, a plain-clothes officer approached the suspect and the two began to talk about the suspect’s travel plans. What immediately stood out, the agent noted, was the suspect’s quick departure from the bus stop, since he was on his way to Salt Lake City and the stop in Washington County was a transfer stop and not the final destination.

“It appeared his rapid departure from the area was purely avoidance behavior when law enforcement was talking with people,” the deputy noted in the report. 

After confirming he was traveling to Salt Lake City, the suspect told officers he was traveling alone and without any luggage, other than a backpack he still had on him.

When agents explained they were running a criminal interdiction and asked if there was anything on his person, the suspect reportedly became visibly nervous and hesitated to answer.

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Agents learned the suspect had booked the shuttle using a false name, which was not illegal, the report states, but did raise investigators’ suspicions. The suspect was later identified as 31-year-old Anthony Lamar Lewis, of Los Angeles, California.

A records check indicated that Lewis had an active warrant on a drug case issued out of California, which agents say heightened their suspicions of possible criminal activity — “specifically drug trafficking.”

When the backpack was placed with the other luggage, the K-9 stopped at the backpack and again alerted. Armed with a search warrant, agents searched the bag and allegedly found approximately 2 kilos of cocaine inside.

The packages were collected as evidence. The suspect was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility, where he was booked into jail facing one second-degree felony count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Agents also requested that Lewis, who has no ties to the area, be held without bail. The request was approved when a no-bail hold was signed by the judge. The case is under review by the Washington County Attorney’s Office and the suspect remains in custody without bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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