HEROIN TRAFFICKER SENTENCED TO 18 TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON Other Traffickers and Dealers Sentenced to Prison as Well
Bayboro, Beaufort and New Bern, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced the following convictions in heroin-related criminal cases in Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico Counties over the past few weeks.
District Attorney Scott Thomas said, “These heroin trafficking prosecutions are part of our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis in eastern North Carolina. We are doing all we can to reduce the illegal supply of opioid pills, heroin, and fentanyl. Our plan is to arrest, prosecute, and send to prison drug dealers and traffickers. Tough enforcement is required to remove these dangerous drugs from our communities. While we seek drug treatment and counseling for lower level drug user offenders, we seek prison sentences for drug dealers and traffickers.”
District Attorney Thomas concluded, “I would like to thank our local law enforcement agencies for their work to investigate these drug cases through undercover operations. They spend countless hours on these cases so we will have the necessary evidence to convict and seek active prison sentences for drug traffickers. Sending drug dealers to prison saves lives and keeps our communities safer.”
DEMETRIS ANTONIO NOLAN, 24, of Morehead City, entered guilty pleas in both Carteret Superior Court and Craven Superior Court, and was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for crimes involving the trafficking of heroin.
In the Carteret County cases, the presiding judge was Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham, and the cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney
David Spence. In the Craven County cases, the presiding judge was Resident Superior Court Judge John Nobles, and the cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Chekesha Hukins.
In the Carteret County matters, following an undercover purchase of heroin from Nolan at his residence, Morehead City Police obtained a search warrant for that house. During the search, Morehead City Police and Carteret County Sheriff’s Office investigators found 65 grams of heroin wrapped in a sock and kept in a safe. The search also turned up a small amount of marijuana, items of drug paraphernalia, and a .38 Smith
& Wesson pistol. Nolan pled guilty to two counts of Trafficking in Heroin, and received two consecutive prison sentences totaling 180 to 240 months (15 to 20 years). He was also ordered to pay a $ 100,000 fine.
In the Craven County matters, the Havelock Police Department undertook a controlled purchase of heroin from Nolan, who was found in possession of more than $ 1000 cash, and a small bag of heroin. Approximately one week later, Nolan was wanted on warrants issued after his home was searched, and investigators found him at the home of the mother of his child. He was in possession of more than 4 grams of heroin as well as cash and a cell phone used during the first transaction. He pled guilty to Attempted Trafficking in Heroin 4-13g, two counts of possession of heroin, one count of Sale of Heroin, one count of Conspiracy to Sell Heroin, and one count of felony possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Judge Nobles sentenced him to a total sentence of 38 to 63 months in prison, which will begin only after Nolan has served the sentences from Carteret County, for a total sentence of 218 to 303 months (18 to 25 years). He was also ordered to forfeit all money found on him, as well as his cell phone, which will be given to a local domestic violence shelter.
In another case from Craven County, KEYELLE HASSELL, 35, of Fayetteville, pled guilty to Trafficking in Heroin, Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Heroin, Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Marijuana, Maintaining a Vehicle for Controlled Substances, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The New Bern Police Department, along with the Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team, conducted surveillance at a local motel when they saw Hassell arrive in a vehicle registered to his father. He and a female companion entered a room. Shortly thereafter, another vehicle arrived, and that driver got out, left his car running, and went into the room, coming out a few moments later. Investigators recognized this pattern as being consistent with drug deals, and they attempted to stop the visitor before he left, but he sped off, nearly hitting an officer. The investigators then went to the motel room and knocked, but no one would open the door. Hassell was pacing back and forth in front of the closed curtains, and the female was pleading with him to open the door. Finally, she managed to open the door, and Hassell was taken into custody. The female companion provided information about hidden drugs and money, and based upon that, and a K-9 alert, officers searched the vehicle. They found an Arizona tea can with a false bottom, containing 51 bags of heroin. They also seized more than $ 2000 cash, heroin packaging kits, scales, and gang-related papers.
Judge Nobles sentenced Hassell to 70 to 93 months in prison, and ordered him to pay a mandatory $ 50,000 fine.
Also convicted recently in Craven County Superior Court was ROYSHAUN GRICE, 33, of New Bern. The Craven County Sheriff’s Office conducted two undercover “controlled buys” from Grice, purchasing $ 40 worth of heroin on the first occasion, and $ 80 worth of heroin on the second occasion. Grice also was charged with breaking into the home of a woman with whom he has a child, and stealing her television, which he subsequently sold to a pawn shop. Grice pled guilty to two counts of Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Heroin, one count of Breaking and Entering, one count of Felony Larceny, and one count of Obtaining Property by False Pretense. He also admitted his status as an habitual felon, having amassed at least three prior felony convictions in the past. He was sentenced to 78 to 106 months in prison (6 ½ to 8 years).
These convictions come on the heels of other recent opiate cases leading to prison sentences. In August, JANUARY JONES, 41, of New Bern, pled guilty to two counts of Trafficking in Opium (one by sale and one by possession), four counts of Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Heroin, and four counts of Sale of Heroin. New Bern Police, using cooperating informants, conducted a series of controlled purchases of heroin from Jones, purchasing more than $ 1900.00 in heroin, all of which took place at K&K Cuts barbershop on Neuse Boulevard in New Bern. He was sentenced to a prison sentence of 70 to 93 months, and ordered to pay a $ 50,000 fine as provided by law.
Also in August, ERIC MICHAEL FARNHAM, 36, of New Bern, pled guilty to a series of charges arising out of his breaking into a pharmacy in New Bern. Farnham stole hundreds of opiate painkillers from the pharmacy, and was later found in possession of paraphernalia indicating that he was injecting the opiates. He was sentenced to a consolidated sentence of 72 to 99 months in prison.
DESMOND RASHAUN BENNETT, 28, of Havelock, was convicted upon his guilty plea to several felony drug offenses, and was imprisoned as an habitual felon. Bennett had been under surveillance by the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office for a drug transaction when he was stopped in Havelock and found to be in possession of heroin, cocaine, needles, and other drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to 80 to 108 months in prison.
Meanwhile, in Pamlico County, several persons have entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to prison, including the defendant listed below. Assistant District Attorneys Christy Hawkins and David Spence prosecuted the cases in court:
KNEIKKO DARNELL FRAZELLE, 28, of New Bern, pled guilty to two counts of Trafficking in Heroin just before his case was called for trial. Frazelle sold, on two occasions, more than five grams of heroin to an undercover informant working with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office, with the first purchase being 5.51 grams, and the second 5.05 grams. The heroin in the second purchase was found also to contain fentanyl. (Fentanyl is also an opioid derivative, often far more powerful and addictive
than heroin, and drug dealers have taken to adding a small amount of fentanyl to heroin that they sell. Fentanyl consumption often leads to overdose and death, even in miniscule amounts.) Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford sentenced Frazelle to two consecutive sentences totaling 12 to 15 years (144 to 186 months). Judge Alford also imposed a total fine of $ 100,000.
Trafficking charges are a special set of controlled substance offenses involving amounts of drugs that are not individual doses, but which clearly involve amounts meant to be sold by a dealer. In heroin and other opiate cases, the minimum amount for a trafficking offense is 4 grams. As the amount increases, so do the applicable sentences, which are a special set of mandatory sentences for drug trafficking convictions. The lowest minimum sentence for a heroin trafficking conviction is 70 months, and a judge cannot impose probation for a trafficking conviction – all sentences are active prison terms. Those sentencing rules also require mandatory fines to be imposed, which, in heroin cases, begin at $ 50,000.
Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis said, “In recent months, heroin overdoses throughout Eastern North Carolina have been on the rise. As a result of the overdoses, the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office and surrounding law enforcement agencies have stepped up their enforcement efforts to arrest and prosecute those responsible for trafficking heroin in our area. In Pamlico County, we will continue to take a strong stand against those responsible for peddling this poison within our communities. We are thankful for the strong working relationship we have with our District Attorney’s office and look to continue working with our legislators and community leaders to find ways to address this terrible opiate epidemic.”
Craven County Sheriff Jerry Monette noted, “We are very thankful to District Attorney Scott Thomas and his staff for cultivating a great working relationship with our investigators. By working together and sharing goals we have been able to make solid arrests and secure convictions through his office. Strong sentences send a message to those that pollute our communities with illegal drugs.”
Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck added, “I say great job to the detectives who investigated, and the District Attorney’s Office in strictly prosecuting, these drug offenders. We must all work together in an effort to send a strong message that drug dealing, especially of these dangerous drugs, will not be tolerated in our counties and this prosecutorial district. These dealers better know we are going to do what we can to send them to prison if they continue in this criminal activity.”
New Bern Police Chief Toussaint Summers said, “Opiate addiction is a very serious problem affecting our community. Drug traffickers are directly responsible for the rise in drug overdoses in the City of New Bern. While we can’t arrest our way out of this problem, the New Bern Police Department continues to aggressively investigate, arrest, and assist in the prosecution of all drug traffickers. There should be no question
that with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Office, drug traffickers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Morehead City Police Chief Bernette Morris said, “This demonstrates the ability of law enforcement and the communities we serve to work together, gathering information and tips that made these cases a success. Opioids and drugs can devastate our communities and prosecutions such as this one are critical to keeping them safe. We all understand the war on drugs is never-ending but for now we have put a dent in it. I look forward to continuing the working relationship with the surrounding agencies and more arrests in the future are likely. I also want to thank the men and women who make these cases a success.”
Havelock Police Chief David Magnusson added, “Havelock is proud to be on board with such a fine group of law enforcement professionals and agencies. The fight against this opioid crisis and the purveyors of poison, who sell and traffic heroin, will be successful since we are all on the same page, moving in the same direction and in unison with the District Attorney’s Office.”
NOTE: Under North Carolina Structured Sentencing law, a convicted criminal defendant must serve all of the minimum active sentence and may be required to serve up to the maximum sentence. Upon release at the conclusion of the prison sentence, a nine to twelve month period of post-release supervision by a probation officer is required.