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Cellphone pings led to drug runner's arrest

A California man received a three-year prison sentence Monday after pings from a cellphone led police to a car in Ashland that contained methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

Justyn Rovola Lee Lewis, 35, of Fresno, California, pleaded guilty to charges of delivery of heroin, delivery of methamphetamine and delivery of cocaine. In addition to receiving the prison sentence, he forfeited $919 in cash found in the car.

Co-defendant Andre Marcella Grigsby, 45, also of Fresno, is scheduled to go to trial Thursday on a string of drug charges, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

The Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team received information that Lewis and Grigsby were transporting large amounts of heroin from the Fresno area to the Medford area, according to a probable cause affidavit. The team had the number of a cellphone related to Grigsby, the affidavit said.

On Jan. 17, an officer began receiving cellphone pings showing the phone was on the move northbound on Interstate 5. A ping then showed the phone was near Exit 11, which leads to Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland, the affidavit said.

An officer had information Grigsby and Lewis were staying at a Siskiyou Boulevard hotel. The officer went to the hotel and observed Lewis get out of a car and go into a motel room while Grigsby allegedly was in the passenger seat, the affidavit said.

Another officer arrived with a narcotics-sniffing dog, which alerted to narcotics in the car, police said.

A detective found two black socks in an air vent under the hood of the vehicle. A pound of heroin, 366 grams of heroin and an ounce of cocaine were in the socks. A scale with heroin, $919 cash and packaging were also found, the affidavit said.

Defense lawyer Michael Bertholf said Lewis is a U.S. Air Force veteran with no criminal history who got paid to be a drug mule.

"It's one of these unfortunate situations I've been seeing a lot of lately," Bertholf said.

Lewis offered an apology to his family and friends.

"I'm sorry I let my country down," he said.

Lewis will be eligible to have his three-year prison sentence reduced if he behaves well. He also will be eligible for work release and alternative incarceration programs, according to the terms of his sentence.

— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Justyn Lewis