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      Large marijuana seizure in Lexington County

      Issac Ray Abilez

      Lexington County Sheriff's Department deputies seized 32 bags or 26 pounds of marijuana at a motel on Berryhill Road in Lexington County Wednesday.

      The marijuana has a street value of $416,000. Three men were arrested during the incident.

      Juan Diego Santiago III, 29, of Deer Park, Texas, and Issac Ray Abilez, 23, of Pasadena, TX were arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana. John Averett Waterman, 23, of Nesmith, SC was also arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

      The three are being held at the Lexington County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing.

      At approximately 9:30 PM, a security officer for the motel was on foot patrol and noticed a strong odor of what he believed to be marijuana being omitted from one of the rooms. The officer knocked on the door and spoke with Mr. Santiago who advised that they had been smoking a "joint." The officer noticed a large bag of what appeared to be marijuana on the bed. The officer then called the Lexington County Sheriff's Department for assistance. Deputies and a member of the Lexington County Multi-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team arrived and began to investigate the incident. All three suspects were then placed under arrest.

      During the investigation, officers found a 2006 Chevrolet Impala in front of the room that was registered to Mr. Santiago. Deputies were called to have the vehicle removed from the parking lot of the motel and conducted an inventory of the vehicle. During completion of the inventory officers found 31 additional bags of marijuana.

      Sheriff James R. Metts stated, "This seizure will have a ripple effect with the street dealers in the area. We are thrilled to remove this large amount of drugs from the streets."