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      Deputies seize prison contraband during traffic stop

      Deputies seized 23 individually wrapped one-pound bags of tobacco and 12 individually packaged cell phones with chargers during a traffic stop on Saturday in Kershaw County. / Courtesy: Kershaw County Sheriff's Office

      KERSHAW COUNTY (WACH) -- The newly formed Kershaw County Sheriff TMs Office traffic unit officers made an unusual seizure Saturday while patrolling on I-20 in Kershaw County.

      Deputies say they conducted a traffic stop on Reco Bell of Columbia. They determined that Bell was driving under suspension and operating an uninsured vehicle.

      According to Sheriff Jim Matthews, the deputies noticed two duffel bags in the back of Bell TMs car and asked for permission to search.

      Authorities found 23 individually wrapped one-pound bags of tobacco and 12 individually packaged cell phones with chargers.

      The deputies recognized these items as being consistent with contraband that is often thrown over the fence at prisons. On the street, these items are of little value, but in prison, tobacco is valued at $800 per pound and a working cell phone is worth about $500.

      Sheriff Matthews adds when Bell was asked about the phones and tobacco, he admitted that he was being paid to throw these items over the wall at a corrections facility, however, would not state which one.

      A national criminal records check revealed that Bell was connected with the bloods street gang.

      In trying to sell the idea of a traffic unit, I tried to convince the skeptics that a traffic unit does more than just write tickets, said Sheriff Matthews. An alert, well trained traffic officer is in a unique position to find contraband of all kinds to include drugs, arrest fugitives and deter criminal activity.

      Bell is charged with driving under suspension and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

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