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Off-duty narcotics investigator finds man passed out in vehicle, results in drug counts

Off-duty narcotics investigator finds man passed out in vehicle, results in drug counts

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An off-duty Iredell County Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigator found a man passed out in a vehicle in the parking lot of a local grocery store and noticed a small bag of powder and a straw in his lap, said Iredell Sheriff Darren Campbell.

As a result, Joel Thomas Ford, 51, of Jonesville, and Leah Brooke Ireland, 37, of Yadkinville, are now facing charges.

Both were charged with felony possession of heroin, misdemeanor possession of Schedule IV, misdemeanor possession of Schedule II and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond was set by a magistrate at $10,000 each.

Campbell said an off-duty investigator was walking into a local grocery store when he noticed the man. He said the investigator, concerned for the man’s wellbeing, tried to wake him and noticed the bag of powder and straw on his lap. The investigator identified himself as a deputy and took the narcotics and paraphernalia, Campbell said.

The deputy then contacted members of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team (ACE) to assist.

Campbell said Ford had Xanax tablets. Ford told deputies he was waiting for a friend who was inside the store.

Deputies located Ireland and asked her to step outside. Campbell said items stolen from the store were found in her purse. He said she also had Oxycodone in her purse. Store management was contacted and she was banned from the store, Campbell said.

Ford is currently on probation for two counts of possession with intent to sell/deliver Schedule II and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Campbell said. Ford’s criminal history includes attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and felony obtaining property by false pretense as well as misdemeanor counts of giving or selling alcohol to a minor, conversion by bailee, possession of Schedule II, consuming alcohol in a public place and driving-related charges.

Ireland’s history includes second-degree trespassing and misdemeanor larceny. She is currently on probation for misdemeanor larceny, Campbell said.

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