News and Press Releases


WEDNESDAY - June 11, 2008


NEW BERN - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday Chief United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced BRIAN JUSTIN ORTIZ, 26, of Wilmington, North Carolina, to 175 months’ imprisonment and 3 years supervised release following his term of confinement. ORTIZ plead guilty on December 14, 2007, to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of heroin.

ORTIZ was one of the leaders of a heroin distribution network that imported heroin from New York to Eastern North Carolina, primarily to the Wilmington area. ORTIZ was directly responsible for the importation of over 700 grams of heroin from 2005 to 2006. During the investigation it was discovered that in April of 2005, ORTIZ sold a quantity of heroin for two handguns; and on October 5, 2006, ORTIZ and Brian Harper were arrested after selling 10 grams of heroin to an undercover officer from Onslow County. After their arrest, ORTIZ and Harper were overheard discussing the fact that more narcotics were stored at a residence in Wilmington, North Carolina. A search warrant was executed at that residence and another 25 grams of heroin was found.

Mr. Holding commented, “This prosecution is another example of the results that can be achieved when federal, state and local authorities work closely, pooling our resources to focus on the drug traffickers affecting our communities.”

“Heroin use and distribution is one of the cities biggest problems. Tragically this is shown by the increasing number of heroin overdose deaths we have seen over the past several years. Hopefully, the dismantling of organizations like this one and the lengthy prison terms that its members have received will discourage others from dealing in this poison,” said District Attorney Ben David.

The investigation is ongoing. Thus far two other defendants, Brian Harper, who received a sentence of 175 months and Alex Graham, who received a sentence of 120 months, have been sentenced in federal court. Two additional defendants have been sentenced in North Carolina State Court.

This case was part of an Eastforce operation entitled “Man O War,” which was investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Wilmington Police Department, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department. The United States was represented by Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Severo. Mr. Severo is a prosecutor with the New Hanover District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Ben David has assigned him to the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force criminal matters. This has been made possible by a grant funded by the Governor’s Crime Commission and the New Hanover County Commissioners.


News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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