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Morgan County Drug Task Force agent Steven Ziaja holds a bag of crystal methamphetamine seized in a raid in Morgan County. The 1˝ pounds of the drug is one of the two largest seizures in the county’s history.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Morgan County Drug Task Force agent Steven Ziaja holds a bag of crystal methamphetamine seized in a raid in Morgan County. The 1˝ pounds of the drug is one of the two largest seizures in the county's history.

Big meth bust for Morgan nets 4 arrest

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com · 340-2355

Four people face charges of trafficking meth and cocaine after drug agents arrested them in a parking lot Thursday.

Agent Steven Ziaja of the Morgan County Drug Task Force said a three-month undercover investigation headed by Alabama Beverage Control, in which agents bought drugs from the accused, paid off big during the stop.

"This is one of the biggest licks that Morgan County has had in methamphetamines," he said of the seizure of more than 11/2 pounds of meth.

The meth, along with three ounces of cocaine and $7,000 cash was discovered in one of two vehicles police stopped outside a shopping center off Beltline Road.

"We were following them. One vehicle had the dope in it, and the other vehicle was running block for it," Ziaja said.

"When we got there, some of the subjects had gone into CiCi's Pizza and were attempting to go out the back door, but agents with the ABC board were able to take them into custody," he said.

Alejandro Pena, Vargas Oliver, Jose Navarette and Maria Hernandez, ages unavailable, all of Mexico, face two counts each of drug trafficking. Each was booked into Morgan County Jail and held in lieu of $150,000 bond, with holds placed on their release by other agencies.

The drugs originated in Mexico, Ziaja said.

The meth is worth about $40,000 and the cocaine is worth about $3,500, he said. On the street, the drugs could easily be cut to double their amount, he said. One ounce of either constitutes drug trafficking, he said, meaning the dealers were in possession of 24 times the trafficking amount of meth and three times that of cocaine.

Ziaja thanked Decatur police and the Drug Enforcement Administration for their help with the investigation led by ABC Lt. Leslie Woodall.

"The ABC was the one that got this thing going and the other agencies jumped on board," said Ziaja.

Police also searched a room at Stay Lodge on U.S. 31 as part of the investigation but found nothing further.

The investigation is ongoing, with the possibility of more arrests as agents follow up on leads, Ziaja said.

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