Twenty people charged following drug task force operation – WECT
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Twenty people have been federally charged for drug and firearm offenses following an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation.
Several agencies assisted in the operation, which was headed by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and ATF. The DEA, the US Marshals Service, the SBI and the Bladen and Duplin County Sheriffs Office also assisted.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, law enforcement explained many of the arrests were made after the suspects bought illegal drugs from undercover agents.
“We will absolutely find and prosecute those who are trafficking drugs, carrying guns and making life harder on hard-working, law-abiding citizens,” said US Attorney Michael Easley. “These investigations — they last a long time but each time they resolve, it gives you a position to spin off and create new investigations that sort of build upon each other. Our objective of the US attorney’s office is to continue to push further up the chain.”
In addition to the arrests, officers also seized meth, cocaine, heroin, and more than 50 guns. The US Attorney confirmed they located weapons ranging from semi-automatic handguns and AR style rifles to an auto sear device used to convert a semi automatic weapon into a fully automatic machine gun, and a ghost gun.
While ATF leaders were happy to report those 50 guns can no longer be used on the streets, the value of the operation goes much deeper. The seizure allows investigators to study the weapons to learn where they came from and how to disrupt the system that got them to eastern North Carolina.
“The trace kind of shows us how a firearm is born. We have another technology called NIBIN, National Integrative Ballistic Information Network, which tells us how the firearm lived its life. We can utilize NIBIN after test firing these firearms to cross-jurisdictionally compare ballistic evidence with other shootings in this area, the region, and nationally if it’s necessary,” said Special ATF Agent Brian Mein.
Leaders in Monday’s press conference also agreed that the operation is far from over. More arrests are expected as the investigation continues.
“We’re not gonna stop. We are going to use every resource center at our disposal to ensure they’re accountable for their actions,” said Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram.
The following individuals were charged by way of Criminal Indictment or Criminal Complaint:
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