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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

MONDAY - September 14, 2009

WILMINGTON PAIR SENTENCED IN CRIME RESULTING FROM AN ORGANIZED CRIME DRUG ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE (OCDETF) OPERATION

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E .B. Holding announced that in federal court on September 11, 2009, KATHRYN ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, 22, and ASHLEY ELIZABETH RICKS, 22, both from Wilmington, North Carolina, were sentenced for conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of Ecstasy (MDMA) and a quantity of Marijuana. Additionally, RICKS was sentenced for possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced WILLIAMS to 60 months’ imprisonment, while RICKS received 72 months’ imprisonment and both received five years of supervised release at the expiration of their sentences.

On February 25, 2008, a Federal Grand Jury returned an Indictment charging the two defendants. On May 4, 2009, both defendants pled guilty to the charges for which they were sentenced.

On December 8, 2008, officers with the Wilmington Police Department received information that RICKS would be delivering 150 ecstasy pills to a subject in Wilmington. Law enforcement conducted surveillance at a residence leased by the defendants. They observed RICKS, WILLIAMS and a third person drive to the meeting location. Officers stopped the car and recovered 151 ecstasy pills.

The Wilmington Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation then executed a search warrant at the residence. Law enforcement recovered $27,620, 11 handguns, an additional 2,000 ecstasy pills and more than 7 kilograms of marijuana. The marijuana along with five of the 11 handguns were found in a hidden compartment in the house. Three of the guns were stolen and two of the guns had a high magazine capacity. The investigation revealed that the defendants had taken part in the transportation (from New York) and distribution of 15,000 Ecstacy pills from January until December 2008.

This case was brought as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation entitled Don Quoxite, investigating importers and multi-level distributors of cocaine,“crack”cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and the gang activity associated with this. This organization is responsible for the importation and distribution of more than 200 kilograms of cocaine, more than 50 kilograms of “crack” cocaine, 3 kilograms of heroin, 20,000 Ecstacy pills and several kilograms of marijuana being imported and distributed into Eastern North Carolina since 2003. To date, 16 people have been sentenced in federal court as a part of this operation.

Mr. Holding commented, “I applaud the work of investigators assigned to this OCDETF case. These types of organized drug trafficking organizations often engage in the wholesale distribution of a wide range of illegal drugs and related products. Often times they protect their trade with firearms. Certainly that was the case here. The sentence imposed by the Court furthers our ongoing effort to dismantle this organization.”

Investigation of this OCDETF is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Federal Bureau of Investigations Safe Streets Task Force (Wilmington); the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations; the Wilmington Police Department; the New Hanover Sheriff’s Department; the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department; the Duplin County Sheriff’s Department; the Pender County Sheriff’s Department; the Holly Ridge Police Department; the Top Sail Police Department; and the Surf City Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Severo represents 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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