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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 24, 2020

Operation Fall of the House of Usher Helps Dismantle Multi-State Methamphetamine Drug Trafficking Organization

WILMINGTON – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that over the course of the last several months in federal court, 32 defendants have been sentenced in a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking investigation. 

The investigation was part of an Organized Crime Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation entitled Operation “Fall of the House of Usher,” which was undertaken in direct response to the explosion of kilogram amounts of extremely potent methamphetamine (with purities as high as 99%) being imported into Duplin, Sampson and New Hanover Counties.  According to the DEA, the methamphetamine was so pure that some users reported consuming heroin to counter balance the effects. The initial focus of the investigation was WILLIAM USHER who imported multiple kilograms of methamphetamine from at least four separate Drug Trafficking Organizations in California and Georgia.

An OCDETF investigation 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 case is a classic example of the combining of an OCDETF operation with our Take Back North Carolina Initiative.  DEA and FBI task force officers were able to identify members and associates of this large scale organization and then partner with the United States Attorney’s Office to develop a strategy to dismantle this organization.  After being armed with local intelligence, law enforcement was able to utilize the substantial resources and tools of the federal government to help break the back of this organization.  The success of this case would not have been possible without these partnerships.

The defendants’ convictions and sentencings were the culmination of an investigation that started in early 2017 focusing on the shift from local clandestine methamphetamine labs to high purity methamphetamine produced on a large scale outside North Carolina and being smuggled into Eastern North Carolina. As part of the investigation, federal and local law enforcement conducted controlled purchases of methamphetamine and heroin, executed search warrants and conducted traffic stops.  Information was also used to make arrests in California and South Carolina.

Forty-one defendants were charged in this investigation, forty have pled guilty in federal court, and thirty-two have been sentenced to date.  One defendant, Brandon Dudley, went to trial and was convicted by a jury.  He is currently pending sentencing.  Of the thirty-two defendants sentenced, the combined sentence for all defendants is 3,351 months, which equates to an average sentence for this operation to 104 months. According to law enforcement, the organization was responsible for the importation and distribution of more than 50 kilograms of methamphetamine. A total of 40 firearms and more than $400,000.00 in currency and property have been seized.

Some of the defendants include:

  • WILLIAM USHER, 33, of Duplin County, NC.  USHER pled guilty  to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, distribution of a quantity of methamphetamine (aiding and abetting) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  USHER was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment.
  • KEVIN WHITE, 42, of Duplin County, NC. WHITE pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Distribution of a Quantity of Methamphetamine, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. WHITE was sentenced to 132 months’ imprisonment.
  • KEVIN FAIRCLOTH, 38, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. FAIRCLOTH was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment.
  • ERIC HERNANDEZ, 24, of Sampson County, NC, pled guilty to Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Conspiracy to Possess With the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. HERNANDEZ was sentenced to 102 months’ imprisonment.
  • BRIAN SHOLAR, 53, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine. SHOLAR was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.
  • MARCUS SPANN, 19, of South Carolina, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base (Crack) and a Quantity of Heroin, Distribution and Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Heroin and Aiding and Abetting and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. SPANN was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment.
  • ERIC DUDLEY, 39, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Possession With Intent to Distribute and Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine. DUDLEY was sentenced to 220 months’ imprisonment.
  • HECTOR MENOCAL-RUIZ, 28, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. MENOCAL-RUIZ was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment.
  • DAVID GIGUIERE, 61, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Distribution of a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Aiding and Abetting. GIGUIERE was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.
  • JAVIER MERCADO, 41, of California, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. MERCADO was sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment.
  • JESUS RIOS, 39, of California, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute More Than 50 Grams of Methamphetamine. RIOS was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.
  • AARON ROBICHAUX, 37, of New Hanover County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and a Quantity of Cocaine and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. ROBICHUAX was sentenced to 252 months’ imprisonment.
  • JULIO NAJERA, 26, of Sampson County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Distribution of 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Possession With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. NAJERA was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment.
     

The remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced over the course of the next few months.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Duplin, New Hanover County and Sampson County Sheriffs’ Office, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation of this case.  Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy Severo, Murphy Averitt and Bradford Knott prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.  This OCDETF operation was nominated and received the Eastern District of North Carolina OCDETF Operation of the Year.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated January 24, 2020