ICSO Canine Brandi poses with marijuana seized by deputies.


A Cuban national faces felony drug trafficking charges after being stopped for a traffic violation by Iredell County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Yasmani Varela-Portela

Sheriff Darren Campbell announced the arrest of Yasmani Varela-Portela, 35, in a news release on Wednesday.

Deputies assigned to the ICSO Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team stopped a vehicle operated by Varela-Portela on Interstate 77 south near mile marker 59 on Tuesday, Campbell said.

Varela-Portela told deputies he was traveling from Columbus, Ohio, to his home in Miami, Fla., according to the news release.

After being called to assist with the stop, ICSO Canine Brandi indicated on the car for the presence of illegal narcotics, the sheriff said.

During a search of the vehicle, deputies located 55 pounds of marijuana, according to the news release.

Varela-Portela was arrested and transported to the Iredell County Detention Center, where he was charged with Felony Trafficking Marijuana by Possession, Felony Trafficking Marijuana by Transport, Felony Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Marijuana, Felony Maintain a Vehicle for the Sale of a Controlled Substance, and Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Magistrate Thompson issued a $150,000 secured bond on those charges.

While conducting a records check on Varela-Portela, deputies learned that he was in the country illegally. The Homeland Security Investigations Office has issued a federal detainer for the suspect.

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