Hilton Head man arrested after police find 7 pounds of cocaine

The arrest of a Hilton Head Island man found with more than seven pounds of cocaine should put a dent in the illegal drug supply in Beaufort and Jasper counties, law enforcement officials say.

Alejandro Alvear-Leyva, 34, of the Summerfield community, was charged Thursday with trafficking cocaine and driving without a license after an investigation by the Beaufort/Jasper Multi Agency Drug Task Force and the FBI, according to a news release Monday from the drug task force.

Members of the task force pulled over a green 1995 Ford Windstar van Alvear-Leyva was driving on U.S. 278 near S.C. 170 in Bluffton after he was seen tailgating another vehicle, said Lt. Joey Woodward, a task force spokesman.

"He's someone we came across during previous investigations, and we knew who we were looking for," he said. "He's lived on the island for a couple of years and has been involved in this for a while."

During a search of the van, a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office dog detected illegal drugs, and authorities found 3.3 kilograms -- or about 7 pounds -- of cocaine, Woodward said. A search of Alvear-Leyva's apartment and a garage revealed about 30 more grams of cocaine, along with packaging for illegal drugs, the release said.

"It was a very substantial load," Woodward said. "It will have a big impact for our communities because we believe the cocaine was going to be sold locally on the streets of Beaufort and Jasper counties."

Alvear-Leyva is being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $50,890 bond, according to the jail log.

Authorities are continuing to investigate others who may have supplied Alvear-Leyva with drugs or are connected to the case, Woodward said.