Largest Drug Bust in Western North Carolina Occurs

Deputies in western North Carolina recently made "the largest fentanyl seizure in the history of Buncombe County." The deputies seized large quantities of meth, fentanyl, and cocaine. Specifically, they seized 5.03 pounds of fentanyl.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), this large amount of fentanyl equates to more than 1.141 million lethal doses of fentanyl. It only takes a 2-milligram dose of fentanyl to be lethal. Law enforcement searched two apartments, one of which was a storage facility. In addition to a massive quantity of fentanyl, the searches resulted in the seizure of the following quantities of controlled substances:

  • Methamphetamine 667.1 grams (1.47 pounds)
  • Heroin (black tar) 977.5 grams (2.15 pounds)
  • Approximately 2,500 miscellaneous pills
  • Cocaine 31.6 grams
  • Taurus semi-automatic handgun
  • Multiple types of drug parapernalia
  • Multiple cell phones
  • Suboxone 88 Dosage Units
Five Suspects Face Federal Charges

Five suspects have been charged with 59 criminal charges, including, but not limited to, trafficking fentanyl, trafficking heroin, trafficking cocaine, and trafficking methamphetamine. Prosecutors claim that the defendants were engaged in a large-scale drug trafficking operation. The investigation involved the following state and federal agencies:

  • Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Haywood County Sheriff’s Office
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
  • NC Probation and Parole
  • Asheville Police Department
  • North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI)
Facing Drug Trafficking Charges in North Carolina

Possession of nearly any narcotic or scheduled controlled substance can qualify for drug trafficking charges. In North Carolina state court, the exact quantity of the controlled substance will determine whether a drug possession charge will become a more serious drug trafficking charge. The penalties for drug trafficking are significant and include lengthy jail sentences, heavy fines, and asset forfeiture.

Even if the drugs allegedly in your possession were meant for personal use, you could still be charged with drug trafficking if you are found to be in actual or constructive possession of a large enough quantity. Additionally, you could be charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver or possession with intent to distribute if the drugs were packaged in such a way that would suggest you intended to sell them, even if you did not intend to sell them.

What Constitutes Drug Trafficking Charges in North Carolina?

The underlying crime for any charge of drug trafficking is drug possession. The prosecution does not have to prove the intent to distribute or transport to charge you with drug trafficking. Instead, the prosecution only needs to prove you’re in possession of at least the following amounts of controlled substances:

  • 28 grams of powder or crack cocaine
  • 2 pounds of marijuana
  • 4 grams of heroin, morphine, or other opiates
  • 100 pills of LSD or ecstasy

The penalties for drug trafficking in North Carolina start at 25 to 30 months in prison for trafficking 10 pounds of marijuana. The penalties increase in severity from there. The highest penalty rangers are for trafficking heroin, with a maximum prison sentence of 225 to 279 months for 28 grams or more.

If you are charged with federal drug trafficking, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines will be considered by the judge overseeing your case. You may have thought you engaged in simple underage possession of drugs or state possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute charges. Still, these charges can quickly turn into federal criminal charges.

What to Do if You are Facing Drug Trafficking Charges

Drug trafficking charges may involve questions related to constitutional issues and police procedures. Authorities and prosecutors may rely on informants in drug trafficking cases, cutting deals with informants in exchange for information that could lead to an arrest and conviction.

When a tip from an informant leads to a boat, house, or car being raided, there is no way of knowing with certainty if the drugs found were being stored, hidden, or moved there without the property owner’s knowledge. When serious controlled substances are involved, there may be issues involving the chain of custody when police officers take possession of drugs after an arrest. An experienced attorney can investigate the circumstances of your case and determine the best legal strategy for defending against criminal charges.

Discuss Your Case with a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing drug trafficking charges in North Carolina, it is crucial you reach out to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. Your freedom and future could be in jeopardy. The Charlotte criminal defense attorneys are prepared to provide you with the robust legal defense you need and deserve. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.