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Press Release

Wilmington Woman Receives 14 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Distribution and Firearm Offense

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

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Wilmington, NC woman was sentenced yesterday to a total of 168 months in prison for distribution of a quantity of a mixture and substance containing heroin, acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl, possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing heroin, acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl and felon in possession of a firearm.    

According to court documents, Crystal Denise James, 30, was stopped by Wilmington Police Department officers on August 13, 2018 in a vehicle exceeding the posted speed limit.  Officers searched James and found several bindles of heroin in her front pocket.  James reached into her back pockets and removed more bindles of heroin.  A total of 57 bags of a heroin and fentanyl mixture were seized. 

From April 25, 2019 to June 6, 2019, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department used a confidential informant to make three controlled purchases of heroin and a mixture of heroin acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl from James.  Following the June 6, 2019 controlled purchase, law enforcement searched James’ residence.  During the course of the search, law enforcement found 5,639 bags of heroin (some of which contained acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl), $5,183, 86 grams of marijuana, a .22 caliber AR-15 style rifle and other manufacturing and packaging materials. 

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Wilmington Police Department, Coastal Carolina Criminal Enterprise Task Force and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Murphy Averitt  prosecuted the case.  Mr. Averitt prosecutes matters in federal court as the result of funding provided by the New Hanover County Commission.

This case is part of 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 on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

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-00153-D.


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Updated December 11, 2020