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Press Release

Methamphetamine Trafficker Who Fired a Handgun at Officer Receives 198 Months In Jail

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

RALEIGH, N.C. – Sean Smith, 32, of Onslow County, was sentenced on February 17, 2021, to 198 months imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute a quantity of methamphetamine and possessing, brandishing, and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The investigation, along with evidence presented in court, revealed that on October 22, 2019, an Onslow County Sheriff’s Deputy was investigating a possible burglary on West Morton Street in Jacksonville.  The deputy was dressed in his police uniform and arrived in a patrol car.  While the deputy was speaking to an individual at the scene, Smith emerged from the side of the residence and fired a gun at the deputy from a distance of approximately 8-12 yards. The deputy, who was uninjured, retreated to his patrol vehicle and retrieved his rifle.  Smith fled the scene but was later found seated on the steps of a nearby residence. The 9mm handgun was found underneath the porch where Smith was seated.  Smith ultimately admitted to firing the gun. Smith was searched following his arrest and was found in possession of approximately 12 grams of methamphetamine and 3 grams of cocaine. 

During the investigation, law enforcement obtained evidence that Smith had possessed more than 400 grams of methamphetamine from September 2019 until the time of his arrest.

On January 1, 2021, Smith was captured on a recorded Facetime jail phone call bragging about how he had fired the gun at the officer, even demonstrating shooting the gun and laughing about the incident.  Smith also described how law enforcement would be unable to find a large amount of methamphetamine that he had hidden at an earlier time.

Mr. Higdon commented: “We are certainly gratified by the sentence imposed by the court in this case.  Sean Smith is a dangerous, cruel drug dealer, and that alone makes his prosecution critical to ‘Taking Back North Carolina’ for drug traffickers and violent criminals.  But his decision to risk the lives of law enforcement officers investigating his crimes puts him at the head of the line for prosecution as we attempt to support the brave officers who do the dangerous work of investigating armed drug trafficking.”

According to law enforcement, Smith was a member of a violent white supremacist organization.  Smith had prior convictions including possession or distribution of methamphetamine precursors; assault on a government official; possession of methamphetamine and, assault inflicting physical injury on a detention officer or employee. Smith was on probation for possession of methamphetamine and felony assault inflicting physical injury on a detention employee or officer at the time of this offense.

The investigation was part of OCDETF Operation. An Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (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.  This OCDETF focuses on a Multi-State Drug Trafficking Organization and Gang Activity that has been responsible for the distribution of large quantities extremely pure methamphetamine throughout the United States.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after the sentencing before U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol took part in the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo  prosecuted the case.

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. 5:20-CR-00005-M.

Updated February 18, 2021

Drug Trafficking