PHELPS COUNTY, Mo. – A check of a suspicious vehicle in rural Phelps County led to the arrest of two men on drug charges.

According to a spokesperson for the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, the incident occurred in the early morning hours of Monday, August 15. A deputy stopped to check on a suspicious vehicle near county roads 100 and 1010 in the eastern part of the county.

The deputy made contact with two people in the vehicle: 24-year-old Kent Daniel Hasse Mertz and 18-year-old James Michael DeLuca.

While speaking with the men, the deputy learned Mertz had outstanding arrest warrants from Rolla. When the deputy asked Mertz to exit the vehicle, the deputy noticed what appeared to be drug paraphernalia in the car. Mertz was then arrested for the Rolla warrants.

The deputy found approximately 300 capsules believed to contain fentanyl. As a result, DeLuca was also taken into custody.

The Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged both Mertz and DeLuca with second-degree drug trafficking. Bond for each defendant was set at $100,000.