Hilton Head man charged with trafficking drugs, possibly Xanax

rlurye@islandpacket.com, sbowman@beaufortgazette.com

February 13, 2014 

Kenneth Edwards

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Deputies seized more than 100 pills suspected to be Xanax from a Hilton Head Island man Saturday after a traffic stop on the island, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.

The arrest of Kenneth Edwards, 23, follows reports of abuse of Xanax by students at Hilton Head Island High School.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner said investigators at the school have identified several persons of interest as possible suppliers, but would not say whether Edwards is among them. The Sheriff's Office is trying to determine if there is a connection between that arrest and reports of drug abuse at the high school, Tanner said Thursday.

Edwards, a passenger in the car deputies stopped, was charged with trafficking a controlled substance, unlawful carrying of a gun and possessing a gun with an obliterated serial number, according to court records.

In 2007, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to five years in prison, which was suspended to probation under the Youthful Offender Act.

He is being held at the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, with bond set at $70,000.

Another passenger was cited for having an open container in a motor vehicle, the report said.

The driver was cited for failure to maintain her lane.

The arrest came after a Ford Expedition traveling west on William Hilton Parkway about 2:10 p.m. began drifting in and out of its lane, a Sheriff's Office report said. A deputy pulled the driver over and noticed the passengers were known drug offenders, according to the report. The report also said the driver, a juvenile, seemed nervous.

When questioned, the driver told deputies drugs were in the car. Her father arrived and gave officers permission to search the vehicle, the report said.

They found a plastic bag containing more than 100 pills, a loaded Taurus .38-caliber revolver with a filed-off serial number and a can of beer, the report said.

The investigation continues, and the Sheriff's Office is analyzing the drugs to determine whether they are Xanax. Tanner said Thursday the results should be available within several days.

Administrators at Hilton Head High report several recent incidents in which students mixed Xanax, a prescription narcotic used to manage anxiety, and Coricidin, an over-the-counter cold-and-cough medicine.

The mixture can be dangerous, inducing lethargy, deep sleep and potentially death, local pharmacist David Burke said last week.

Since Jan. 22, eight drug-related incidents have resulted in disciplinary action, Hilton Head High principal Amanda O'Nan said Friday, and 911 was called twice last week because of drug problems. Administrators and teachers have found that some students took three times the recommended amount of both drugs, and, in some cases, more.

The Sheriff's Office is working with school administrators and has launched an investigation to determine which students are involved and how they are getting the drugs, Tanner said.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca. Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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