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Press Release

Pender County Narcotics Trafficker Receives 14+ Years in Federal Prison

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

NEW BERN, N.C. – Elmer “E.J.” Holmes, Jr., 38, of Pender County, was sentenced to 175 months in prison for (1) Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of Cocaine and 100 grams or more of Heroin and (2) Distribution of a quantity of Heroin and Cocaine and aiding and abetting another.  

According to court documents, evidence presented in court and other documents, law enforcement was able to determine that E.J. Holmes received large amounts of narcotics at the Pender County home of his cousin Johnny Holmes in 2019. E.J. would leave drugs for Johnny to distribute and have the remainder transported to another location.  Between April and September 2019, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms conducted several controlled purchases from Johnny Holmes of ounce amounts of heroin and cocaine in Pender County.  On April 29, 2019, following a controlled purchase of cocaine and heroin from Johnny Holmes’ house, a Highway Patrol Officer conducted a traffic stop on a car being driven by E.J. with Johnny as a passenger.   The officer found the buy money from the earlier controlled purchase.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement uncovered that E.J. Holmes was responsible for distributing more than 3 kilograms of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin from December 2018 until the time of his arrest.  Following his federal arrest on these charges E.J. tried unsuccessfully to have Johnny Holmes write a letter to law enforcement saying that E.J. was not involved in the drug trafficking organization.

EJ Holmes had two prior federal convictions at the time of his arrest on these charges for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (2004) which he received a 21 month active sentence, and Possession with Intent to Distribute more than 500 grams of Cocaine (2006) in which he received an active sentence of 76 months in prison. 

Johnny Holmes received a sentence of 56 months in federal prison for distributing heroin and cocaine.

This is part of operation “Ahab’s Harpoon” which is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launders, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigations, North Carolina Highway Patrol, the Pender, New Hanover, Onslow, and Duplin County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Jacksonville Police Department investigated the case and 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. 7:19-cr-00191-FL.

Updated March 17, 2022

Drug Trafficking