Troup County sheriff’s officials: Pill bust ‘biggest in history’ locally, nationally
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015
LaGRANGE — When Troup County sheriff’s Sgt. Nathan Taylor stopped a car on Interstate 85 early in the morning of Aug. 3, the trained narcotics agent had no idea he was about to make one of the biggest drug busts in county history.
Although Taylor initially pulled the vehicle over for speeding and a window tint violation, he said he immediately smelled the odor of marijuana.
He searched the van and found 11 pounds of suspected “high-grade” marijuana in a duffle bag in the rear cargo area of the vehicle, he reported. But it was what else he said he found with the pot that shocked him: at least 40,000 tablets of Xanax and 1,000 Percocet pills.
The Troup County Sheriffs Office estimated the alleged drugs are worth nearly $454,000.
According to TCSO, it is the largest reported prescription pill seizure made during a traffic stop in county, state and U.S. history.
The driver, Nicholas Antoine, 34, of Atlanta was immediately arrested and charged with one count of possession of a schedule 2 narcotic, one count of possession of a schedule 4 narcotic and one count of trafficking marijuana.
“That was a lot of pills,” said Taylor. “He could have purchased them on the street somehow, someway. He could be manufacturing it. He could have a pill lab. We don’t know.”
Taylor said they do know Antoine’s destination was not Troup County — he was headed to Mobile, Alabama. But since being arrested, TCSO officials said Antoine obtained a lawyer and has not said much more.
“We don’t think it’s (pills) being manufactured here,” TCSO public information officer Sgt. Stewart Smith emphasized.
“(Antoine) is just a (suspected) drug trafficker,” said Taylor, alleging he was trafficking drugs to sell at another location. “… It is a pretty safe bet to say these pills are being manufactured illegally. These ingredients are being shipped from overseas illegally and are being made and then being sold on the streets, pill by pill, to regular people.”
According to Taylor, illegal use of prescription pills are a big problem in the state of Georgia — and across the nation.
“It’s nice to take this many pills off the streets,” he said. “It’s going to make a huge impact.”
Taylor and Smith both said Interstate 85 is a gateway for traffickers to run illegal drugs for gangs between major cities like Atlanta and Chicago, or down south to Mexico for the cartel.
Both men said the sheriff’s office has seen a big spike recently in the number of drugs coming through the county, which makes their prescription pill bust all that more important.
“Taking a hit like that off the street is hurting that organization and the traffickers as well — and that’s what we want,” Taylor said. “It’s hurting the drug dealer in Atlanta, or wherever they’re coming from, because then the dealers nor the distributors get paid when the drugs are taken off the streets.”