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Press Release

Fayetteville Man Sentenced to More Than 16 Years for Heroin Distribution

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

NEW BERN – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announces that United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced JOHN ELWOOD TYRONE MARTIN, 48, of Fayetteville, NC, to 198 months imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervised release. 

On March 29, 2019, MARTIN was named in a one-count Criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.  On May 3, 2019, MARTIN pled guilty to the charge.

On November 4, 2016, a task force officer (TFO) with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was contacted by a confidential source (CS #1) regarding MARTIN. According to CS #1, MARTIN stated that he could supply the city of Fayetteville with heroin and boasted about selling kilograms of heroin for $75,000.  MARTIN also provided CS #1 with 0.4 gram of heroin, which CS #1 turned over to investigators.  

On May 31, 2018, at the direction of members of the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD) and FBI, a second confidential source (CS #2) arranged to purchase 200 grams of heroin from MARTIN.  Shortly thereafter, MARTIN arrived at CS #2’s residence where detectives with the FPD’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Unit and Narcotics Unit were waiting in undercover surveillance vehicles.  

As MARTIN pulled into the driveway of the residence, agents exited their vehicles and began to approach MARTIN’S vehicle. When MARTIN observed the approaching detectives, he placed his vehicle in drive and accelerated his vehicle in the direction of the detectives, causing them to move out of the path of the vehicle.  MARTIN drove toward the rear of the residence, where his flight was halted due to trees and a fence surrounding the property.  

When MARTIN’s vehicle came to a stop, MARTIN opened the driver’s side door and attempted to destroy a large quantity of heroin and fentanyl by tearing open several bags and shaking out the contents creating a cloud of the powder.  As a result, several of the arresting detectives were exposed to the heroin and fentanyl and subsequently transported to Cape Fear Valley Hospital to be evaluated.  MARTIN was taken into custody and transported to the FPD.

CS #2 informed law enforcement agents that he had once obtained more than 1 kilogram of heroin from MARTIN during the course of approximately six transactions.

Finally, law enforcement determined that while MARTIN was on release and pending sentencing in this case, he continued to distribute controlled substances in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) named Operation La Vida Loca. OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

That effort has been implemented through the United States Attorney’s Office’s Take Back North Carolina Initiative.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.  For additional information about this initiative, click here

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fayetteville Police Department investigated this case.  Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Lemmon prosecuted this case for the government.


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

Updated January 23, 2020