More than 61 pounds of cocaine was seized in Brodnax on Thursday. The 61.6 pound stash carried a street value estimated at around $2.8 million. Arrested was Vincent Maurice Lewis, reportedly the head of a drug trafficking organization operating in Virginia and Michigan.
Also arrested was Jorge Enrique Suarez. Both men have been charged with possession with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and could face life in prison.
According to reports, the arrests come after a lengthy investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In an affidavit filed on Friday by a special agent with the DEA, Lewis had been operating the organization with friends and family, distributing cocaine in Southside Virginia as well as around Saginaw and Flint, Michigan. The drugs reportedly came out of Mexico and into Rio Grande City in Texas before being transported into Virginia. The organization, reportedly capable of distributing multi-kilos of drugs monthly, had been operating for several years.
On Wednesday, investigators on the case obtained court authorization to intercept electronic communications in order to monitor a pre-paid cell phone Lewis allegedly used, and on Wednesday evening at around 10 p.m. authorities intercepted a call made to Rio Grande City. During the conversation, Lewis and the other person reportedly discussed the scheduled arrival of the cocaine shipment.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Lewis received a call saying that the shipment would arrive in about three hours.
A DEA officer observed the tractor-trailer arrive near the end of Brown Town Road in Brodnax. Lewis arrived at the scene, parked and approached the vehicle. The driver, identified as Suarez, left the vehicle and retrieved two boxes from the back of the trailer. Lewis placed the two boxes into the passenger side of the van he was driving and gave Suarez a white plastic bag.
Suarez, under surveillance by the DEA, drove off and was later stopped near Exit 15, traveling north on I85.
A search of the truck resulted in two bags of currency being found.
Lewis was taken into custody, and the 61.6 pounds of supposed cocaine was found in the van.
Preliminary hearings were scheduled for Lewis and Suarez in Federal Court in Richmond for Wednesday.
According to the DEA, this is not Lewis’s first brush with the law. In 2004, Lewis was sentenced to 12 and a half years for drug trafficking. Lewis was released from custody in 2013.
According to reports, Lewis was involved in a drug conspiracy case that included former Brodnax Police Chief Bruno L. Crutchfield and former State Trooper Marshall L. King as well as a Lewis family member.
The convictions in that case were set aside after it was learned that government witnesses had lied about the case.