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Tow-truck driver accused of transporting heroin, nearly $333K (GA)


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Like some other work vehicles, tow trucks are required to stop at weigh stations. A Florida man allegedly didn’t abide by this rule, and now stands accused in federal court of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, a crime that carries with it a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison.


According to a complaint sworn out by Elizabeth Strickland, a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer, Ira Bernarg Rivers was behind the wheel of a tow truck with Florida registration, towing a Lincoln LS from Jacksonville, Fla., which Rivers told law enforcement he was taking to someone waiting for him at a Richmond, Va., Pep Boys.

Rivers didn’t stop at the weigh station near I-95 mile marker 56 in McIntosh County, leading to a traffic stop by Motor Carrier Officer William Jennings. Jennings smelled marijuana and asked to search the truck’s cab, where he found a vape pen with a vial of liquid THC, along with banded cash.


A search of the Lincoln’s trunk turned up a brick of what turned out to be heroin, multiple yellow padded envelopes and vacuum-sealed cash.


“Rivers said that an individual named ‘Pat’ was supposed to pay him $8,000 to transport a vehicle from Jacksonville, Fla., to Richmond, Va.,” according to the complaint. “Rivers said he was paid $4,000 initially and was expecting another $4,000 from the person accepting delivery of the car in Virginia. Rivers further said that he met ‘Pat’ at approximately 7:15 a.m. at an apartment complex near the intersection of Dunn Avenue and Harts Road in Jacksonville, Fla.


“Rivers said he used the keys and drove the Lincoln LS onto the tow truck. Rivers explained that he then gave the keys back to ‘Pat’ who locked the car. ‘Pat’ told Rivers that there was ‘300 coin’ in the vehicle. Rivers explained that the term ‘coin’ was street lingo for money, and Rivers believed there was between $50,000 and $100,000 in the vehicle.


‘Pat’ then paid Rivers $4,000. Rivers explained that he thought there could be drugs in the vehicle.”

Rivers also told investigators he’s a “multiple-pound marijuana dealer.”


In addition to the vape pen and heroin, law enforcement seized $4,000 out of the truck cab, $1,000 from Rivers himself and $327,780 in cash from the trunk of the Lincoln.


Rivers’ bond hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.


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