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Press Release

Shallotte Gang Member Sentenced 25 Years for Drug Distribution

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

RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced COVIA DZELL SMITH, 46, of Shallotte, North Carolina, to 300 months imprisonment, followed by 6 years of supervised release.

SMITH was named in a three-count Indictment filed on May 8, 2018, charging him with Distribution a Quantity of Marijuana and two counts of Distribution of a Quantity of Cocaine.  On January 18, 2019, SMITH was convicted by a federal jury of all three counts.

In 2017, agents began investigating SMITH based on information that he was a drug supplier and a gang leader in Brunswick County, North Carolina.

A cooperating witness stated that SMITH held a high rank in the 9 Trey Billy set of the Bloods street gang. The cooperating witness stated that he knew SMITH had distributed heroin and cocaine base.

Another cooperating witness testified at trial that he had regularly purchased cocaine from SMITH in 2017. The witness stated that SMITH always carried a firearm with him, and he confirmed that SMITH was a member of the Bloods gang.

A third cooperating witness stated that in July 2015, he witnessed SMITH kill a man after an altercation at a club in South Carolina. The witness said he saw SMITH fire a handgun into the victim’s chest four times at close range, killing him. On another occasion, the witness said he saw SMITH cut a victim multiple times in the face.

On June 1, 2017, an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was introduced to SMITH, and expressed interest in purchasing a motorcycle from SMITHSMITH told the undercover agent that the motorcycle was in need of repairs but could be fixed in exchange for marijuana. SMITH then offered the undercover agent “a blunt” and provided the undercover agent with a small amount of marijuana.

On June 7, 2017, the undercover agent and a cooperating witness (CW) traveled to SMITH’s residence and informed SMITH that the CW was interested in purchasing SMITH’s motorcycle. The undercover agent and SMITH discussed the undercover agent purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine from SMITH. SMITH told the undercover agent he would contact his supplier.

Later that day, the undercover agent met SMITH at a car wash. The undercover agent gave SMITH $200, and SMITH gave the undercover agent 3.28 grams of cocaine.

On June 20, 2017, under the direction of law-enforcement, the CW purchased 7.12 grams of cocaine from SMITH in exchange for $500 at SMITH’s residence.

At trial, a cooperating witness testified that after SMITH was arrested on these charges and was being held at the Brunswick County Detention Center, SMITH admitted that he had sold cocaine to an undercover officer.  The cooperating witness also testified that while SMITH was in the Brunswick County Detention Center, he told another Bloods member that the investigating agent would be “dog food,” which is a common Bloods term meaning that SMITH intended to harm or kill the agent.

Because of his extensive criminal record, including convictions for prior drug trafficking crimes, SMITH was determined to be a Career Offender, and so an enhanced advisory sentencing guideline range applied.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). 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 Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in those communities on a sustained basis to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Lemmon represented the government.

Updated July 15, 2019

Drug Trafficking