Phelps CountySheriff's Department
During the early morning hours of August 15, 2022, a Phelps County deputy stopped to check on a suspicious vehicle near county roads 1000 and 1010 in eastern Phelps County.
While conducting routine inquiries on the occupants of the vehicle, the deputy learned the passenger Kent Daniel Hasse Mertz, age 24, of St James, Missouri, had outstanding arrest warrants from the City of Rolla. When the deputy asked Mertz to exit the vehicle, he observed what appeared to be drug paraphernalia in the car. Mertz was then placed under arrest on the Rolla warrants.
Further investigation led to the discovery of approximately 300 capsules believed to contain the deadly drug known as Fentanyl. As a result, the deputy arrested the driver, James Michael DeLuca, age 18, of Rolla.
Mertz and DeLuca have been charged by the Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney’s office with Trafficking in Drugs 2nd Degree. The bond has been set at $100,000 for each defendant.
“This is an example of great police work by our deputies,” Sheriff Michael Kirn said. “Our deputies are working hard every day and every night as we battle this deadly drug which is devastating communities across the country,” Kirn said.
The charges for which Mertz and DeLuca were arrested are merely accusations and are not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented before a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
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