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A Clean Drug Deal? Trio Charged in Soap Trafficking Case

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 26, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Perhaps Jason Anderson and Luz Ortega thought they were outsmarting Tarvares Hargrave by cheating him during a drug sale. Maybe they thought they were outsmarting the cops by not actually having drugs for sale. And maybe they didn't even know what they had for sale wasn't drugs. Either way, the couple's plan backfired in the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, as all three were arrested for trafficking 10 bars of Ivory soap.


Buy Bust

When officers busted the apparent drug deal, they thought 1.331 kilograms of cocaine (about three pounds) were changing hands. The participants may have thought that as well. But lab tests revealed the packaged substance to be soap, and different criminal charges were in order. Of course, it is illegal to purchase, possess, or sell cocaine. But it's also a crime to sell something that someone is supposed to believe is an illegal drug, or to take part in such a deal.

North Carolina's drug laws make it illegal for any person: "To create, sell or deliver, or possess with intent to sell or deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance." And counterfeit controlled substances are defined as:

Any substance which is by any means intentionally represented as a controlled substance. It is evidence that the substance has been intentionally misrepresented as a controlled substance if the following factors are established:
1. The substance was packaged or delivered in a manner normally used for the illegal delivery of controlled substances.
2. Money or other valuable property has been exchanged or requested for the substance, and the amount of that consideration was substantially in excess of the reasonable value of the substance.

Squeaky Clean

We don't know how much Hargrave was paying for the soap, but he's been charged with attempting to traffic in cocaine, and his arrest warrant was amended to include 3.3 pounds "of what he believed to be cocaine." An arrest warrant for Anderson lists the material involved as "10 bars of Ivory soap wrapped in thick plastic wrap," and he and Ortega have been charged with possession with intent to sell a counterfeit controlled substance.

We would tell these three to clean up their act, but...

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