News and Press Releases

Six Individuals Indicted On Drug Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2012

United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Three men and three women from North Carolina have been charged with conspiracy to manufacture, and possession with intent to distribute, methamphetamine, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Wayne L. Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division, Paula Carson, Special Agent in Charge of the Northwestern District Office of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI), Sheriff David Edwards, of the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff James Williams, of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office.

A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte returned the criminal indictment on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. According to allegations contained in the indictment, from about January 2011 to about December 2011, the defendants did knowingly conspire to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In addition to the drug conspiracy charge, each defendant was also charged with one count of possession of pseudoephedrine, a substance used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The following individuals were named and charged in the indictment:

• James Derek Cardwell, 31, of Piney Creek, N.C. James Cardwell was also charged with one count of possession of materials to make methamphetamine and two counts of maintaining drug-involved premises.

• Jackie Cornelius McDowell, 48, of Ennice, N.C. McDowell was also charged with one count of possession of materials to make methamphetamine, one count of maintaining drug-involved premises, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

• Christopher Michael Piasta, 38, of Sparta, N.C. Christopher Piasta was also charged with one count of possession of materials to make methamphetamine and two counts of maintaining drug-involved premises.

• Tasha Nicole Piasta, a/k/a Tasha Nicole Wiley, 22, of Sparta. Tasha Piasta was also charged with one count of possession of materials to make methamphetamine and one count of maintaining drug-involved premises.

• Austion Rea Cardwell, 29, of Piney Creek. Austion Cardwell was also charged with one count of possession of materials to make methamphetamine and two counts of maintaining drug-involved premises. And,

• Kimberly Dawn Vasquez, a/k/a Kimberly Dawn Wells, 29, of Sparta. Vasquez was also charged with one count of maintaining drug-involved premises.

The defendants are currently in local federal custody. All defendants had their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Charlotte on Wednesday, July 24, 2012, before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer.

The sentencing range for the conspiracy drug charge is a statutory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine. The statutory maximum sentence for possession of pseudoephedrine is 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The statutory maximum sentence for possession of materials to make methamphetamine is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The statutory maximum sentence for maintaining drug-involved premises is 20 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. The statutory maximum sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The investigation, which is ongoing, is being handled jointly by the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the ATF and SBI. The prosecution is being handled for the government by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Comerford of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.



 

 

 

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