Crime

More than $1M in cocaine seized in Lancaster County drug bust

Lancaster County sheriff discusses seizure of more than $1 million in cocaine from Indian Land business

Sheriff's investigators on Wednesday seized more than $1 million in cocaine from an Indian Land business, which Sheriff Barry Faile called one of the largest busts in his agency's history.
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Sheriff's investigators on Wednesday seized more than $1 million in cocaine from an Indian Land business, which Sheriff Barry Faile called one of the largest busts in his agency's history.

An Indian Land business owner was charged with trafficking in what Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile said was one of the largest busts his agency has made.

Alex Vicente Soto-Godinez, 36, was charged with trafficking cocaine and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, authorities said.

Investigators say they received information from York County authorities that illegal drugs were present at Alex’s Auto Care on Fort Mill Highway, which Soto-Godinez operates.

Soto-Godinez was not at the business when authorities began surveillance around 7 a.m. Wednesday, but he later arrived, officials said. Based on their conversation with Soto-Godinez when he arrived, information obtained by investigators and the use of a drug K-9, investigators obtained search warrants for the business and his vehicle.

Inside the business, investigators found 1.6 kilograms of substance believed to be cocaine and 2.5 pounds of a substance believed to be marijuana, Faile said. There was also more than $3,600 cash and other drug-related items, including packaging materials.

Investigators found 12 kilos of cocaine in Soto-Godinez’s van, Faile said. The street value of all the drugs is more than $1 million.

“This is probably the largest cocaine seizure we’ve ever had here in Lancaster County,” Faile said Thursday during a news conference. “This is really unbelievable to me. We don’t get this type of information ... with these type dealers in Lancaster County.”

Faile said investigators believe Soto-Godinez’s business was used as a “stash house or drop-off point to go out to other areas of the state and, maybe, other states.”

It’s not clear how expansive the drug operation was, and the case remains under investigation. Faile said his agency is also working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We have no proof that this suspect is here legally,” he said.

The investigation began after York County authorities received information about illegal drugs at Soto-Godinez’s business, Faile said. Authorities from York and Lancaster counties began surveillance Wednesday morning.

“We had to move quickly on this, and the results were phenomenal,” Faile said. “These agreements allow agencies to share intelligence, manpower and equipment to investigate matters which often cross jurisdictional lines, as was true in this case. Clearly, had our agreement with York County not been in place, this arrest and the seizure of these drugs might not have occurred.”

Soto-Godinez faces a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years, if convicted on the cocaine trafficking charge.

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala

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