News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

TUESDAY - July 21, 2009

CO-DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY TO CHARGES RELATED TO THE MANUFACTURING OF METHAMPHETAMINE

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday three co-defendants pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to charges involving the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine. STEVEN MICHAEL COLE, 29, of Siler City, North Carolina, and VICTOR WESLEY EVANS, JR., 33, of Benson, North Carolina, each pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute and possessing with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). WESLEY CRAIG HICKMAN, 26, of Dunn, North Carolina, pled guilty to aiding and abetting the possession of a list chemical with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1).

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on May 7, 2009. On October 27, 2008, a Harnett County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a fire alarm activation at the Burgess House, a vacant dorm at Campbell University. Upon his arrival, he noted someone had entered the building through the rear carport entrance of the dorm and fumes were in the upstairs area with an odor of ammonia. He saw several containers with filters in the upstairs bathroom and requested narcotics officers investigate.

When narcotics officers arrived and more closely inspected the containers, they noticed a white powder substance. Also found was a two liter bottle with a funnel on top and white powder in the bottom, Coleman fuel and lithium batteries – the makings of a working methamphetamine lab. Prints found on the Coleman fuel can matched with those of COLE.

Further investigation revealed that on October 26, 2008, COLE traveled to Fayetteville with HICKMAN to purchase pseudoephedrine pills for EVANS. Pseudoephedrine is a chemical necessary for the manufacture of methamphetamine. It had been arranged between EVANS and COLE that EVANS would give COLE one-half gram of methamphetamine for each box of pills COLE provided. COLE met with EVANS after purchasing the pills and went to the Campbell dorm, where they began the cooking process. The fire alarm activated when EVANS opened the salt generator.

It was further learned that COLE and EVANS came to HICKMAN saying they had set off the alarm and that COLE had used HICKMAN’s truck to try to retrieve the methamphetamine they had left. HICKMAN had also allowed COLE and EVANS to use his truck to transport the Coleman fuel, anhydrous ammonia and other items for the cooking. HICKMAN was to receive methamphetamine in return for the box of pseudoephedrine he had provided.

Mr. Holding commented, “The production of methamphetamine is a risky and dangerous proposition. These men endangered the safety and security of those around them as they attempted to manufacture this powerfully addictive drug.”

EVANS and COLE face up to a life-term of imprisonment followed by up to 10 years of supervised release and a fine of up to $4,000,000.00. HICKMAN faces up to 20 years imprisonment followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1,000,000.00.

Sentencing is set for the week of October 19, 2009.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Harnett County Sheriff's Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer E. Wells served as prosecutor for the government

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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