By Debby Schamber
The Orange Leader
Two Austin men were arrested Wednesday after investigators found more than 50 pounds of marijuana in their vehicle.
While working drug interdiction on Interstate 10, Sgt. Tracy Sorge of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Services Division, and Keith Reneau of the Pinehurst Police Department noticed a silver mid-size SUV, which was traveling west, commit a series of road violations. The vehicle was a rental car with Michigan license plates.
The driver, who was later identified as 30 -year-old Brian Lewis, was observed by the officers failing to obey warning signs by not merging into the right lane of travel when instructed to do so. Officers said he was also using an improper turn signal while changing lanes in a posted construction zone.
Authorities forced the SUV to stop near the Womack Road exit. The vehicle’s passenger identified himself as Alfie Alfonso Lewis by a social security card in his possession. Officers would later discover, however, that Alfie Lewis’ real name was Marvin Lewis.
While interviewing the men, the officers noticed a strong odor of marijuana emitting from a passenger’s compartment.
“While talking to [the suspect] about the rental agreement and while he was looking for his ID, that is when I smelled the odor,” Sorge said.
While officers were preparing a probable cause search, Marvin Lewis, who was standing on the roadway, is said to have re-entered the suspects’ vehicle and attempted to flee the scene, according to Sorge.
Marvin Lewis, 31, exited on the Womack Road exit and turned around heading east.
A short time later the suspect was apprehended with the help from Orange Police Officers Howard Devault and Robert Bergeron. The officers placed a tire deflation spike strip on the eastbound I-10 lane near the Simmons Drive exit. Also providing assistance was Jason Guidroz and Darren Mooney of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office’s Support Division.
The suspect, presumably spotting the spike strip as he approached the officers in the SUV, came to a stop just in advance of the strip. He was then removed from his vehicle without incident and secured in a caged patrol car.
Marvin Lewis was arrested at the scene. The Austin man had four additional warrants out for his arrest, including evading arrest, drugs and bank charges, Sorge said.
During a search of the vehicle, investigators found almost 50 pounds of marijuana concealed inside the SUV.
“[The marijuana] was found in the rear cargo area,” Sorge said.
Brian Lewis was also arrested and both men were placed in the custody of jail officials at the Orange County Jail. The pair is charged with felony possession of marijuana. Bond is set at $15,000 for Brian Lewis while Marvin Lewis’ bonds total $80,000. Both men remained in jail custody as of press time.
If convicted of the charges against them, the two men could receive two to 10 years in prison.
Reach this reporter at 409-883-3571, Ext. 2613, or email@example.com
By Debby Schamber
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