News and Press Releases


TUESDAY - February 21, 2012


RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court on February 16, 2012, Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever III, sentenced two Wilmington, North Carolina, drug dealers. DESMON TERRILL BARNHILL received 180 months imprisonment followed by five years supervised release and LEWELLYN VAUGHT received 168 months imprisonment followed by five years supervised release.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on June 24, 2010. On June 6, 2011, and June 9, 2011, BARNHILL and VAUGHT, respectively, each pled guilty to two counts of distributing a quantity of cocaine. Additionally, on October 3, 2011, Superseding Criminal Informations were filed charging each defendant with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine. VAUGHT was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm of a previously convicted felon. That same day, each defendant pled guilty to charges in the Informations.

According to the investigation, in 2009 law enforcement became aware of BARNHILL and VAUGHT through another drug dealer. From September, 2009, to December, 2009, nine controlled purchases were arranged in which VAUGHT and/or BARNHILL sold cocaine. On November 4, 2009, Wilmington Police conducted a traffic stop of VAUGHT’s vehicle. During the stop, the vehicle was searched and a .45 caliber firearm was discovered. On March 3, 2010, the Wilmington Police Department served a search warrant on a location associated with BARNHILL’S drug distributions and recovered several firearms.

Through the investigation it was learned that VAUGHT and BARNHILL had been selling controlled substances since 2006.

This case was brought as a part of an Organized Crime Drug

Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation entitled Don Quixote,

investigating importers and multi-level distributors of cocaine,

crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and gang activities associated with this distribution. This organization is responsible for the

importation and distribution of more than 450 kilograms of cocaine, more than 150 kilograms of crack cocaine, 3 kilograms of heroin, 20,000 Ecstacy pills and more than 240 kilograms of marijuana into Eastern North Carolina since 2003. To date, 57 people have been sentenced in federal court as a part of this operation.

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

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