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Press Release

Fayetteville Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Drug and Firearm Charges

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

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Fayetteville man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for Cocaine Base (Crack), Marijuana, and Firearm crimes.

According to court documents, Joey Eduardo Ayala, 37, pled guilty to Distribution of 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base (Crack), Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Marijuana, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime on March 11, 2020.

On February 17, 2018, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) met with a confidential informant (CI) who provided information about Ayala’s cocaine and crack sales.  The CI also stated he observed Ayala possessing a handgun during his drug transactions. 

A joint investigation with the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) began utilizing this CI to make multiple controlled purchases from Ayala. On ten separate occasions, Ayala sold controlled substances to the confidential informant, including cocaine, cocaine base (crack), methamphetamine, and marijuana. 

On March 28, 2018, the Florence County South Carolina Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Ayala. The rental vehicle was emitting a strong odor of air freshener that was placed around the gearshift. The officer also noticed a large sum of U.S. currency in the center console.  Ayala gave law enforcement consent to search the vehicle.  Inside the vehicle was $34,200 in U.S. currency, 0.5 grams of crack cocaine, and 2 grams of marijuana.

On March 13, 2019, Ayala was observed leaving his residence.  Agents conducted a traffic stop and informed Ayala that there was a warrant for his arrest and for a search of his residence.  Subsequent to arrest, Ayala stated that there was marijuana in the vehicle.  Ayala admitted buying ounce quantities of cocaine and pound quantities of marijuana. Ayala reiterated that there was marijuana and a handgun in the vehicle.   Lastly, Ayala stated he had a “few pounds” of marijuana at the residence and a small amount of cocaine.  

A search of the vehicle revealed: two cell phones, a .40 caliber handgun, marijuana, and cocaine.  

A search of Ayala’s residence found: cocaine, marijuana, suspected MDMA (methamphetamine) pills, U.S. currency, a money counter, a vacuum sealer and bags, digital scales, and a 9mm handgun.  According to the agent, a search of the vehicle and the residence found a total of two ounces of cocaine (56.7 grams), 16 pounds of marijuana (7.2576 kilograms), approximately 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of MDMA, two firearms (noted above), and $6,500 in U.S. currency.

Based on the investigation, from February 2016 to March 13, 2019, Ayala is conservatively accountable for 1,336.6 grams of cocaine, 75.89 grams of cocaine base (crack), 54.298 grams of methamphetamine, 28.35 grams of MDMA, and 12.1451 kilograms of marijuana.  Additionally, Ayala possessed a firearm in connection with his drug trafficking activities. 

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., 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 ATF, FBI, Fayetteville Police Department, and the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Lemmon prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-cr-00473-D-1.


The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

Updated July 15, 2020

Drug Trafficking