FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - April 20, 2010
OPERATION COLD WIND CONCLUDES
WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced the conclusion of an investigation of drug trafficking that encompassed Nash and Wilson counties.
In July 2006, agents arrested Bernard Lucas in Wilson, North Carolina, on a federal indictment for conspiring to distribute and possess 50 grams or more of cocaine base (crack). Lucas cooperated with agents in this on-going investigation. Based on the information Lucas provided, agents were able to corroborate information they already had about local drug traffickers, as well as develop new leads regarding the distribution of narcotics in Nash and Wilson counties.
During this investigation it was determined that multiple kilograms of cocaine base (crack) and powder cocaine were being imported into Nash and Wilson counties weekly. This crack and powder cocaine was then distributed by mid-level narcotic traffickers. During the course of this investigation, agents found that the Cold Wind investigation linked to other on-going federal investigations that have international ties going back across the border into Mexico.
In late 2006, a proposal was presented to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina to go after mid-level drug traffickers operating within these two counties, as well as other jurisdictions throughout the Eastern District of North Carolina. In early 2007, the United States Attorney’s Office approved this operation under East Force, which is an avenue for state and local law enforcement agencies to present local impact narcotics cases to the United States Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution and named the operation Cold Wind.
The United States Attorney’s Office, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, the Wilson Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office for the Seventh Judicial District joined forces to go after these mid-level narcotic traffickers.
Since the inception of operation Cold Wind approximately 50 people have been sentenced to federal prison. To date, agents have seized $853,538 worth of illegal narcotics and $462,683 in US currency. Thirty-five firearms and three vehicles were also taken during the operation. Thousands of man-hours have gone into this East Force operation from all of the agencies involved.
“I want to thank each of the agencies involved for the crucial role that they played in this important effort. A clear message to drug dealers has been sent that if they decide to ply their trade here in this Judicial District they can expect to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” commented Mr. Holding. “This case is a prime example of the significant accomplishments that local law enforcement agencies can achieve when they work hand in hand to defeat the drug traffickers that plague their jurisdictions. The United States Attorney’s Office is proud to have played a part in a seamless and selfless investigation conducted by these agencies.”
Robin Pendergraft, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation commented, "Combating drug traffickers who infect our communities requires team efforts like this investigation.The SBI worked closely with federal and local law enforcement to help Nash and Wilson counties fight back against drug dealers and the crime and violence they cause.”
“I am extremely impressed by the results obtained from this program and offer my sincere appreciation to those local, state, and federal agencies which joined in this effort. Our office continues to pledge its resources and cooperation with efforts to ensure safer communities for our citizens,” stated Robert A. Evans, District Attorney, Seventh Prosecutorial District.
“Operation Cold Wind is an operation of necessity.Drug dealers are not confined to county lines or city limit signs.In 2007, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office entered into a partnership with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office. The results of this partnership are presented here today with individuals from Nash and Wilson counties receiving these substantial prison sentences,” commented Sheriff Dick Jenkins of Nash County. “Information sharing between law enforcement agencies is essential in the successful apprehension and prosecution of drug dealers and the evidence is presented here today.”
“As this agency continues to go after drug dealers, we will continue to work as a team with other local, state, and federal agencies, sharing information and resources to ensure that these individuals do not escape identification, apprehension, and arrest,” stated Wayne V. Gay, Wilson County Sheriff. “We can assure you that with the caliber of prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office, these individuals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The Wilson Police Department is extremely grateful to work with such a phenomenal group of professionals. As Chief of the Wilson Police Department, I will continue to support efforts to actively investigate deviant activities that threaten the quality of life of our citizens,” commented Thomas Hopkins, Chief, Wilson Police Department.
Defendants of Significance:
SPENCE pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine in March of 2008. SPENCE, who had multiple prior felony convictions for narcotics, was responsible for the distribution of 6.94 kilograms of crack in and around Nash County. After being given an opportunity to cooperate after his arrest, SPENCE was found to be continuing to use and sell crack cocaine. SPENCE received a sentence of 324 months.
WILLIAM ANTHONY ROBERSON
ROBERSON pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine and a quantity of cocaine, as well as a charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in March of 2008. After cooperating, law enforcement discovered that ROBERSON continued to sell drugs. ROBERSON lost all benefit of his cooperation and received a sentence of 240 months.
ANTHONY ANTONIO SHEPARD
SHEPARD pled guilty to a charge of distribution of five grams or more of crack cocaine and aiding and abetting Matthew Fields in that offense in August of 2008. SHEPARD sold crack cocaine in both Nash and Wilson counties. SHEPARD was found by the court to be a career offender and sentenced to 264 months.
WILLIAMS’ case began as a Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative case out of Wilson. WILLIAMS, a convicted felon, was a known crack cocaine dealer. Officers obtained a search warrant for WILLIAMS’ residence. Inside, they found 112 grams of crack cocaine, a 9mm pistol, ammunition and various types of drug trafficking paraphernalia. WILLIAMS received a sentence of 322 months in January of 2009.
HAYMAN sold crack cocaine to agents with the Nash and Wilson County Sheriff’s Offices. At sentencing, HAYMAN was held responsible for distributing over a kilogram of crack cocaine in Nash and Wilson counties and was sentenced to 236 months in April of 2009.
CUTLER, a convicted felon, was stopped by law enforcement in January of 2008 as she delivered crack cocaine to her co-defendant, Stephen Hardison. CUTLER was found to be in possession of almost 10 grams of crack, as well as powder cocaine, Ecstasy and loaded Ruger .45. CUTLER received a sentence of 195 months in March of 2009.
HARDISON had 28 misdemeanor and 70 felony convictions from Wilson and Nash counties for numerous breaking and entering, forgery, uttering and larceny, along with a prior drug conviction before he was arrested on federal narcotics charges. The Court upwardly departed Based on HARDISON’s substantial prior criminal history and sentenced him to 197 months in March of 2009.
Nash County and Wilson County made three purchases of crack cocaine from BARBER, then, in January of 2008, Executed a search warrant at BARBER’s residence in Bailey. Agents located two firearms, along with crack cocaine and various drug paraphernalia at the home. After this arrest, BARBER was released on state charges and was arrested seven months later with crack cocaine again. BARBER, who had four prior drug convictions, received a sentence of 222 months in May of 2009.
Wilson County arrested May in April of 2008 after Executing a search warrant at MAY’s residence off Old Stantonsburg Road. MAY, a convicted felon, had three firearms in his home, along with crack cocaine and over $18,000 in cash. MAY admitted to investigators that he had already sold over three kilograms of crack cocaine in 2008. After a three-day trial before Judge Flanagan in New Bern, MAY was convicted on all counts. MAY received a sentence of 300 months in January of 2010.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.