Two men have been arrested by Cornelius police in connection with what appears to be a major drug operation, authorities say.
The arrests were accompanied by the seizure of a large amount of drugs, cash, luxury vehicles and other items, Cornelius police say.
The arrests and seizures were related to a high-speed police pursuit Tuesday afternoon in which suspects escaped police.
Cornelius police say their detectives -- with help from the Department of Homeland Security and Huntersville police -- confiscated marijuana, a large amount of cash, firearms and electronic devices during the searches at a home on Harken Drive, near Lake Norman.
Another search, on Rio Oro Drive, turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, according to police and the owner of the house.
Arrested so far, police say, were Tyron Durham, 43, who is from Trinidad but living in Richmond Hills, N.Y.; and Sean Younger, 43, who was living at Harken Drive residence.
Police say the investigation is continuing.
Both men were charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver, and maintaining a vehicle for the purpose of selling and delivering a controlled substance. Durham also was charged with felony conspiracy, and Younger with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to a search warrant, Cornelius police were contacted last Wednesday by Winston-Salem police, who said they had intercepted a package at a Kinkos store that contained “two separate 5-gallon buckets, bearing the business name of Ace Hardware.” Each bucket contained about 10 pounds of marijuana, according to the search warrant.
Winston-Salem police said they had taken a person into custody who was cooperating with the investigation, according to the search warrant. That informant told police that people “had been picking up packages at various Fed Ex Kinkos locations around Charlotte.” Police decided not to conduct a controlled delivery of the confiscated drugs, because too much time had elapsed.
But police in Winston-Salem contacted Cornelius police again Tuesday, saying they had confiscated another package at a Kinkos in Greensboro. Once again, the package was a 5-gallon bucket with “Ace Hardware” on it. A person taken into custody said the package was bound for a man named “Sean” in the Charlotte area.
According to the search warrant, Cornelius police then started surveillance on a house in the 21200 block of Harken Drive. The search warrant says police saw two vehicles arrive -- a 2011 BMW with New York plates, and a black late -model Dodge Challenger with N.C. plates.
The search warrant says Cornelius detectives watched two men take a number of 5-gallon buckets with the “Ace Hardware” name into the house. The two cars left the house shortly before 1 p.m., and police said they saw the men put the buckets in the BMW before leaving.
Police tried to conduct a traffic stop on the two vehicles, but the drive of the Dodge fled southward on Interstate 77, toward Charlotte. Police saw the driver throwing something from the vehicle, according to the search warrant.
Authorities say the Dodge reached speeds of more than 100 mph, but Cornelius police stopped the pursuit near Exit 23 in Huntersville, out of concern for the safety of other motorists on the road.
According to the search warrant, other police officers spotted the BMW on Torrence Chapel Road but lost sight of it. A short time later, officers spotted the car parked in the 21600 block of Rio Oro Drive. The car left the house, according to the search warrant, and was pulled over by police on Torrence Chapel Road. Younger was driving, police said.
Police also conducted a raid at a house on Rio Oro Drive, confiscating a Jaguar parked in the driveway. But the owner of the home, asking Wednesday not to be identified, said it was a case of mistaken identity. A police source Wednesday confirmed the story.
The man, who is black with dreadlocks, also owns a black Dodge and says he fit the description of the man driving the vehicle that escaped from police on I-77. The Rio Oro Drive homeowner told The Observer on Wednesday afternoon that his wife and 3-year-old daughter sat in a police patrol car Tuesday night, as investigators searched their home in a neighborhood off Knox Road.
The man said police promised to return his Jaguar later Wednesday.