CMPD seize narcotics, weapons in containers at public storage facility

(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) say an anonymous tip helped them confiscate more than a $100,000 worth of narcotics and weapons that were being held inside containers at a storage facility, and the suspect was living in one of the units.

Vice and narcotics detectives say they pulled the suspect over for a traffic violation while conducting surveillance on him last week.

They say after they questioned him, they obtained a warrant to search the storage containers that were in his name and his mother's name at Public Storage in the 9400 block of South Tryon Street.

Police say when they raided the containers, they seized "body armor, night vision goggles, firearms, and a variety of narcotics and drug paraphernalia were seized. Specifically concerning the drugs, approximately 1,580 grams of marijuana, 370 grams of THC oil, 2,515 grams of synthetic marijuana, 2,950 grams of methamphetamine, seven grams of crystal methamphetamine, and 25 units of prescription medication."

Refugio Najir Gutierrez Espinoza was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, felony possession of marijuana, trafficking synthetic marijuana, trafficking methamphetamine, and trafficking heroin.

"Just by the sheer volume of the narcotics that we seized that day it was a huge thing for our city keeping this from making onto the streets, especially with the opioid crisis that we're in right now" said Lt Patrick Matthews.

Police say the butane honey oil detectives say Espinoza was storing is something they're seeing more and more. Investigators say people put marijuana in the butane oil, press it - turning it into an oil that gels up. According to police - it's now ready for vaping and chewing.

"The problem is that it's so highly concentrated with THC that a lot of these young kids don't realize what they're ingesting can easily overdose on these types of chemicals."

"You had somebody in there sleeping in there next to a modified AR 15,  a shotgun with bulletproof vests and the night goggles," said CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano. "I mean I don't think the guy was collector – put two and two together - this thing really could have gone sideways ."

Lt. Matthews says CMPD's Special Investigations unit investigate large-scale narcotics on a regular basis but he says what makes this case different is that the suspect had his drugs stored in a public storage facility that's not far from CMPD's Steele Creek division office.

"How much narcotics that we confiscated, the variety of narcotics that we confiscated, as well as the weapons involved and where this operating was taking place," Lt. Matthews said.

Police say the storage containers were packed ceiling high and the storage containers were in Espinoza's and his mother's names for about a year.

Police say the mother didn't know about the drugs.

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