An informant’s tip led the Special Operations Unit to the parking lot of O'Charley's Restaurant & Bar where agents seized 4.4 pounds of metamphetamine valued at $202,000 and $13,518 in cash on Tuesday at 1528 Bradley Park Drive, a Columbus police officer testified Thursday in Recorder's Court.
Police charged Valerie Flowers, 27, Amber Hass, 29, and Maria Lopez, 20, with one count each of trafficking in meth. Lopez and Flowers pleaded not guilty to the charge while Hass continued her hearing until 2 p.m. Friday because defense attorney Stacey Jackson wasn’t available for court Thursday. Judge Julius Hunter ordered Lopez held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail and bound the charge over to Superior Court.
Police Sgt. Andy Farmer said the Special Operations Unit received credible information from a source that a drug transaction would take place in the parking lot at the restaurant. Agents and officers reviewed the information and immediately set up surveillance at the location. Information from the source also indicated the transaction for the narcotics would involve a women meeting another.
Agents saw a 2017 Toyota Corolla pull into the restaurant parking lot but the driver didn’t get out before moving to the nearby Chick-fil-A on Bradley Park Drive. After eating a meal, Lopez entered the Toyota and drove to the parking lot at O’Charley’s. Minutes later, a 2005 BMW driven by Hass with Flowers as a passenger pulled near the Toyota.
Hass left the BMW and entered the Toyota. “We determined that was the transaction,” Farmer told the court. Lopez and Hass were taken into custody.
A K-9 on the scene alerted to drugs in both vehicles. Inside the Toyota, agents found two gallon-size bags with 2.2 pounds of meth each for a total of 4.4 pounds of the drug valued at $202,000. Agents also found $13,518 in cash. Flowers had remained in the BMW during the “take down” of the two women. Agents found a small amount to marijuana in the center console of the BMW.
Flowers told an agent that she was only along for the ride although Farmer didn’t know which of the other two agents talked to her. Attorney Alfonza Whitaker represented Flowers and Lopez was represented by public defender Vanessa Flournoy. Neither testified during the hearing.
Hass who also is charged with possession of marijuana delayed her hearing until Friday to allow Jackson to represent her. Jackson was out of town on Thursday.