Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell discusses a major fentanyl seizure on Interstate 77.


Iredell County Sheriff’s Office deputies seized $3.75 million worth of fentanyl during a traffic stop on Interstate 77 on Sunday.

Sheriff Darren Campbell called the seizure of 118 pounds of suspected fentanyl, which was mixed with cocaine, a record for the ICSO and possibly the State of North Carolina.

Canine Groot with drug seizure

Members of the ICO Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team stopped a northbound 18-wheeler on Sunday for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, Canine Groot was deployed and gave a positive identification for the presence of narcotics, the sheriff said.

Deputies found the fentanyl packaged in bricks, which were hidden inside duffel bags, along with more than $100,000 in cash, Campbell said.

Two men who were traveling in the 18-wheeler were charged with trafficking heroin.

Lorenzo Juan Arreola, 44, of Sunland Park, N.M., and Lucio Eduardo Chavira Avila, 33, of Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, were transported to the Iredell County Detention Center.

Both suspects were jailed in lieu of a $3.5 million bond.

Lucio Chavira Avila
Lorenzo Arreola

The men were traveling from Charlotte to Philadelphia with a load of tile, according to the ICSO. The drugs entered the United States from the Southern border less than two days before they were seized, Campbell said.

The quantity of fentanyl seized by deputies was enough to kill 26.8 million people, he added.

The sheriff said he hoped the seizure would serve as a wake-up call for federal lawmakers. He urged members of Congress to pass H.R. 3333, the FEND off Fentanyl Act, which would provide tools to deter international fentanyl trafficking and prosecute fentanyl-related money laundering.

“The supply of illegal drugs is at an all-time high across our nation, which drives violence, addictions and other crimes,” Campbell said. “Law enforcement is frustrated with the overdose deaths, crime and violence that follows the drug trade.

“We need our lawmakers to secure our borders and provide the resources to stop the flow of these deadly narcotics across the Southern border.”

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