Update: 78 lbs of pot, $35K found

Published 2:29 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ST. ROSE — A Sunday traffic stop in St. Charles Parish led to the arrest of two men and the seizure of 19 guns, 78 pounds of marijuana and over $35,000 in cash from a St. Rose home.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said the case began when his agency received a tip from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in reference to 20-year-old Houston resident Juan Salinas transporting drugs from Houston to a home in St. Charles Parish. Further investigation led to a traffic stop on Salinas Sunday, Champagne said, where he was found in possession of marijuana.

A search warrant was then conducted on the residence of Lance Cowans, 36, of 836 Fox Lane in St. Rose. Authorities said Cowans was the acquaintance Salinas was visiting in St. Charles Parish.

During the search of Cowans’ St. Rose residence, officers located two handguns, 17 long rifles, multiple digital scales, material used to package and distribute marijuana, $36,880 in cash, approximately 79 pounds of marijuana and several other controlled, dangerous substances.

Capt. Patrick Yoes said the marijuana — which has a street value of over $100,000 — was organized into bricks and hidden within a tire found in Cowans’ residence.

Yoes said the sophistication of how the drugs were packaged and hidden leads authorities to believe they are “not dealing with first time smugglers,” adding it is not known at this time how long the drug transfers between Salinas and Cowans were taking place.

Authorities will continue to investigate the case, Yoes said, to look at different angles of the operation and determine whether any other arrests will be made.

Salinas was arrested Sunday and booked with a stop sign violation and distribution of 78 pounds of marijuana.

Authorities said he bonded out of jail Tuesday on a $100,000 commercial bond.

Cowans was arrested and booked with possession with intent to distribute 78 pounds of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled substance and 13 other drug charges.

He remains incarcerated in lieu of a $150,000 bond.