Undercover Drug Operation Results in Charges for Dozens of Dealers, Seizure of Hundreds of Pills

Raleigh
At least 28 people are being sought by police today following a three-month, multi-jurisdictional undercover operation that focused on the sale of prescription drugs in Bertie and Hertford counties.

Within 90 days, law enforcement made street-level covert purchases of 893 oxycodone and dilaudid pills in this operation, which is part of a statewide campaign know as Operation “Take as Directed.”  The total street value of those prescription opiate tablets is more than $8,000.

“This is a huge success considering the number of dealers who were charged in such a short period of time,” stated Bertie County Sheriff John Holley.  “And there are more arrests to come in the near future. Without this team working together, we would not have been so successful,” added Sheriff Holley.

This successful partnership by the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office, Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit (DECU) was forged after discussions between an SBI DECU agent and the investigators from the sheriff’s offices.

The sheriff’s offices were originally combatting this particular drug problem in their counties independently.  By combining their efforts with the SBI and its resources, street level buys were determined to be the winning option to confront this growing issue.  

“Each entity offered resources that the others could not provide.  In essence, we had an informal task force at work,” stated SBI DECU Special Agent in Charge Donnie Varnell.

This street-level campaign focused on the hand-to-hand sales of prescription narcotics. “We were shocked to learn the high volume of illegal prescription drug sales here in our community and the enormity of the problem,” said Sheriff Juan Vaughan of Hertford County.  “It is through these close partnerships that we have provided our best service to the citizens in addressing this particular problem.”

The operation began with a small number of dealers targeted in the Powellsville area but it quickly expanded to other communities.  Shortly after the undercover buys were initiated the suspects began independently contacting the buyers, which is uncommon in drug investigations. 

This campaign was directed toward individuals with the capabilities of selling trafficking amounts of prescription narcotics.  To traffick oxycodone or dilaudid in North Carolina requires only a few tablets of either or combined.   In “Take as Directed,” there are two single purchases of 50 oxycodone tablets from two different people. This explains the unusually high number of trafficking violations charged in this street level operation.

Illegal prescription drug sellers and buyers do not the fit the typical image the public may have of drug abusers.  The DECU has shut down numerous large-scale prescription drug rings.  These rings are operated by people from blue and white collar backgrounds.  The unit also focuses investigations on doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are obtaining prescription drugs illegally for personal use or who are involved in drug rings. 

“They are our neighbors and the people we come in contact in the course of everyday life,” said SBI DECU Special Agent Paul Munson.  “The abuse of prescription drugs affects people from all socioeconomic levels.” 

SAC Varnell added that the DECU currently has several ongoing investigations in the state on gangs that are not dealing the traditional street drugs such as crack and powder cocaine.  Those particular targets are running prescription drug rings instead.

Some of the local department’s most elusive drug traffickers are now in jail due to this campaign.  “These individuals have been a criminal problem for a long time.  Their arrests will have an immensely positive impact on the local communities,” said Sheriff Holley.

This operation is part of an ongoing statewide focus by the SBI on the illegal sales of prescription drugs.   “The illegal distribution of prescription drugs is at epidemic proportions across the United States and North Carolina is no exception,” said SBI Acting Director B.W. Collier.  “This is only one segment of the SBI’s statewide initiative that is directed toward the illicit sales of prescription drugs.”

Law enforcement’s interest is not only to catch the criminal, but to save lives.  There are massive numbers of overdose related deaths across the country due to prescription drugs.  “Even one of these pills can be potentially fatal,” SAC Varnell stated.  “The non-medical use of prescription narcotics results in many more unintentional overdose deaths than all other street drugs combined.  North Carolina alone loses about 1,100 citizens each year to these tragic overdoses.”

SBI agents now carry nasal Naloxone kits that are administered to overdose victims and it has saved many lives.  “Anyone abusing these drugs is subject to overdose whether they are young or elderly.  Every victim is someone’s child or parent.  In the end, all lives are precious,” stated SAC Varnell.

For many people, the first opportunity for intervention they receive is through contact with law enforcement.  “Those charged in this operation today will be offered a medical assessment and information on treatment options at the time of their arrest,” Sheriff Holley said.

Agencies participating in the round-up today of those charged were the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office, Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, Gates County Sheriff’s Office, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, Ahoskie Police Department, Windsor Police Department, Woodland Police Department, Murfeesboro Police Department, North Carolina Department of Revenue and the DEA Tactical Diversion Unit.  The SBI’s DECU, Special Response Team, Computer Crimes Unit and the Northeastern District also assisted.

The following individuals were arrested:

·         Shirley Delois Bazemore, 60, Powellsville; possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, sell and deliver oxycodone, maintain a dwelling to keep controlled substances, trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·         Joyce Ann Perry, 43, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession, three counts, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, three counts

·         Ethan Glass, 22, Aulander; conspiracy to traffic opiates, possession with intent to sell and deliver

·         Jason Carroll Ray, 28, Ahoskie; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, sell and delivery of oxycodone

·         Jerry Chapman, 45, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·         Sherman Cofield, 51, Windsor; possession with intent to sell and delivery oxycodone, sell and delivery of oxycodone, two counts, conspiracy to sell and deliver oxycodone

·         Eric Sessoms, 35, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, sell and delivery of oxycodone, possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, maintaining a vehicle to keep controlled substances

·         Christopher Bern Carter, 57, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession, two counts, trafficking opiates by sell and deliver, two counts

·         Dwayne Anderson, 43, Rich Square; trafficking opiates by possession, two counts, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, two counts, conspiracy to traffick opiates, two counts, possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, sell and delivery of oxycodone

·         Matthew Cain Edwards, 30, Ahoskie; trafficking opiates by possession, two counts, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, two counts, conspiracy to traffic opiates, two counts

·         William Wesley Perry, 58, Colerain; trafficking opiates by possession, three counts, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, three counts, conspiracy to traffic opiates

·         Kevin Scott, 31, Eure; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, conspiracy to traffic opiates

·         Shannon Renee Jones, 30, Murfeesboro; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, conspiracy to traffick

·         Michael O’Neal Eason Jr., 20, Woodland; possession with intent to sell and delivery oxycodone, three counts, sell and deliver oxycodone, two counts, conspiracy to sell and deliver oxycodone, three counts

·         Joshua Lawrence Gaudette, 29, Ahoskie; conspiracy to sell and deliver oxycodone, trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·         Bobby Fitzgerald Freeman, 51, Ahoskie; trafficking opiates by possession, two counts, trafficking opiates, two counts

·         Russell Ray Perry, 46, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·         Joseph Dewayne Conner, 37, Woodland; possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, sell and deliver oxycodone

·         Jeffrey Lynn Perry, 26, Lewiston-Woodville; trafficking opiates by possession and trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·          Dwight David Olmsted, 23, Ahoskie; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery.

·         Skid, no dob, no address; trafficking opiates by possession, two counts, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, two counts.

·          Brandon Thomas Hall, 29, Ahoskie; trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·          Thomas Lynwood Pierce, 50, Colerain; conspiracy to traffick opiates, two counts

 

Warrants are outstanding for the following:

·        Lashwan Moore, 25, Woodland; conspiracy to sell and deliver oxycodone, two counts, possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, sell and deliver oxycodone

·         Tomeka Shenett Vaughan, 39, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession, two counts, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery, two counts, conspiracy to traffick opiates

·        Thomas Wilkins, 35, Powellsville; possession with intent to sell and deliver oxycodone, two counts, conspiracy to sell and deliver oxycodone, two counts, sell and deliver oxycodone, two counts

·         Katina Yvonne Watford, 35, Powellsville; conspiracy to sell and deliver oxycodone, trafficking opiates by possession, trafficking opiates by sell and delivery

·         Mark Garner, 26, Powellsville; trafficking opiates by possession two counts, trafficking opiates sell and delivery, two counts, conspiracy to traffick opiates

###

 

Contact: Teresa West
Phone: twest@ncdoj.gov

This press release is related to: