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Press Release

Armed Robeson County Drug Trafficker and Prior Federal Felon Who Escaped Custody Sentenced to 25 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – Bruce Carroll Callahan, Jr., aka “Hoss,” an armed Robeson County drug trafficker and prior federal felon who bragged to investigators about being the “biggest” drug dealer in Robeson County, was sentenced today to 300 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and crack sourced from Honduras and Mexico in Eastern North Carolina.  Callahan claimed to have access to over twenty kilograms of narcotics at any time.

While awaiting trial and prior to his September 26, 2023, guilty plea, Callahan, age 45, escaped from the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia where he was being held. He was discovered missing on May 1, 2023, and apprehended on May 9, 2023, just a few miles from the jail. Callahan was convicted for his prison escape and sentenced to 20 months in custody followed by three years of supervised release.

“This is the fourth sentence of 25 years or more stemming from drug trafficking in Robeson County in just over a month,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “We and the ATF are partnering with local law enforcement to put dangerous drug traffickers like Callahan behind bars. Drug traffickers can run, but not for long.”  

“This arrest underscores our efforts and commitment to combat the drug trafficking trade,” says Sheriff Burnis Wilkins.  “Violent crime and overdose deaths are at an all-time high, and it is collaborative efforts such as this that will improve the quality of life in Robeson County.” 

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and our local, state and federal partners remain committed to addressing the most serious threats to our communities, including the gun violence often linked to drug trafficking networks,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “Dismantling drug trafficking networks and bringing those responsible to justice has an immediate impact on the level of gun violence and violent crime in our area.”

“The United States Marshals Service, through its long-standing federal, state, and local partnerships ensures that violent fugitives are continuously pursued, discretely located, and safely arrested,” said U.S. Marshal Glenn McNeill for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  “The investigation and capture of Callahan is yet another example of those efforts.”

According to court documents and other information presented in court, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) and ATF launched an investigation into Callahan and his drug trafficking operation in 2021 after receiving numerous community reports that he was selling drugs in the Fairmont area of Robeson County. During the summer of 2021, investigators conducted two controlled purchases of cocaine and crack from Callahan’s residence.

In September 2021, law enforcement arranged for a controlled purchase of two kilograms of fentanyl from Callahan.  Callahan’s Honduran suppliers arranged for co-defendants Rony Lardi-Ortiz and Jefferson Marin Funez to deliver the fentanyl to Callahan’s Fairmont residence on September 16, 2021.  Lardi-Ortiz and Funez have previously pled guilty and have been sentenced to 120 months and 126 months respectively for their role in the conspiracy.

After Callahan received the two kilograms of fentanyl from Lardi-Ortiz and Funez, they left Callahan’s residence, travelling north on Interstate 95 to deliver the fentanyl.  RCSO deputies conducted a traffic stop on their vehicle.  Though Callahan and his co-defendants attempted to jump out of the vehicle and flee, they were quickly apprehended.   Investigators located the two kilograms of fentanyl sitting on the back seat in Callahan’s vehicle.  A search warrant was then executed at Callahan’s residence where a quantity of cocaine and cocaine base were seized along with items used to package drugs for sale and a .45 caliber handgun. 

Callahan pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, cocaine, and crack; possession with intent to distribute four hundred (400) grams or more of a mixture containing fentanyl; and two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Callahan’s prior felony convictions include a 2003 federal conviction for possession of firearm by a felon in addition to several convictions in Robeson County Superior Court for felonious assaults, trafficking cocaine, and robbery with a dangerous weapon. 

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lumberton Police Department investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Webb prosecuted the case.

The other recent Robeson County cases yielding sentences of 25 years or more include:

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 7:21-CR-0138-D-1.

Updated December 20, 2023

Drug Trafficking