News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WEDNESDAY - September 9, 2009

OPERATION FIRE ANT DEFENDANT RECEIVES

10-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR DRUG CHARGES

WILMINGTON - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court on September 8, 2009, YADIRA AVILEZ-LOPEZ, 22, of Kinston, North Carolina, was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox to 120 months’ imprisonment followed by five years supervised release.

A Federal Grand Jury returned an Indictment on April 22, 20009. On June 8, 2009, AVILEZ-LOPEZ pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine.

On July 10, 2008, an undercover investigator ordered a kilogram of methamphetamine from AVILEZ-LOPEZ. Lenior County Sheriff’s Detectives arrested her shortly after she arrived at the Piggly-Wiggly in Kinston. During a search of AVILEZ-LOPEZ’s car, detectives found 438 grams of methamphetamine. The officers then executed a search warrant at AVILEZ-LOPEZ’s residence. During the search, detectives found $27,000.00, a .45 caliber pistol, an SKS assault rifle and items associated with drug distribution.

This case was brought as a part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation entitled Fire Ants, investigating international and national importers and the multi-level distributors of methamphetamine. The organization is responsible for the importation and distribution of more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine into Eastern North Carolina since 2005 and several kilograms of cocaine. To date, a total of 15 people have pled guilty and been sentenced in Federal Court.

Mr. Holding commented, “We continue to see the benefits of a team effort through our Drug Task Force Program. Moreover, our success in this case is the result of our close working relationship with the New Hanover District Attorney’s Office.”

Investigation of this case was conducted by the North Carolina States Bureau of Investigations; the Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATFE); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the Lenior County Sheriff’s Office; the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office; the Beaullaville Police Department; the Pender County Sheriff’s Department; the New Hanover Sheriff’s Office; the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department; the Wilmington Police Department; and the North Carolina Department of Community Corrections. Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Severo and Assistant United States Attorney Brian Meyers represented the government. 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 www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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