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Press Release

Wilson County Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Drug Distribution Conspiracy

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, Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, III sentenced SEAN TRENT BARNES, 44 from Lucama, North Carolina, to 360 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. 

BARNES was named in a ten-count Indictment filed on May 17, 2017.  On August 21, 2017, BARNES pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams of More of Methamphetamine.

The investigation revealed that BARNES distributed marijuana and crystal methamphetamine in the Wilson and Johnston County, North Carolina, area for more than twenty (20) years.  BARNES stored ounce quantities of crystal methamphetamine and distributed it from a home he shared with his girlfriend and her nine-year-old son in Lucama, North Carolina.  He also stored methamphetamine and firearms at his father’s home in Lucama.  The methamphetamine supplied to BARNES was imported into the United States from Mexico.  BARNES recruited a homeless methamphetamine addict to live in his home and provided him with methamphetamine in exchange for distributing methamphetamine for BARNES.  Numerous other individuals also sold methamphetamine for BARNES.  In May 2016, the Wilson Police Department (WPD) and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) initiated an investigation into BARNES’ drug activities based upon information provided by a confidential informant (CI).  Subsequently, the WPD, WCSO and assisting law enforcement agencies utilized the CI to make controlled purchases from BARNES, seized methamphetamine from BARNES, and obtained historical statements from government witnesses.

On June 28, 2016, the CI negotiated with BARNES to purchase two ounces of methamphetamine at a location near the North Carolina/South Carolina state line.  While enroute to deliver the methamphetamine to the CI, law enforcement authorities conducted a traffic stop of BARNES on Interstate 95 South in Johnston County.  BARNES and his passenger were arrested after authorities located 43 grams of methamphetamine in the trunk of BARNES’ car.  A subsequent search of BARNES’ home in Lucama found an additional 5.2 grams of methamphetamine and other drug paraphernalia.

From the investigation, law enforcement determined BARNES trafficked 623.7 grams of actual methamphetamine and 756.5 grams of marijuana from 2013 to September 7, 2016.  BARNES was a leader or organizer of an otherwise extensive criminal activity that involved five or more participants.  BARNES also possessed firearms in furtherance of his methamphetamine-trafficking activities.  While BARNES maintained premises from which he distributed methamphetamine, the premises from which he distributed methamphetamine served as his primary residence and the primary residence of his father.

Mr. Higdon commented:  “Sean Trent Barnes has been poisoning the streets of Wilson County for more than two decades.  But now, with the imposition of a 30 year sentence, those communities can begin to recover from the effects of his crime.  The Court’s lengthy sentence gives these communities that opportunity and we are very pleased that the United States Justice Department could play a role in achieving that result.  I want to commend the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Wilson Police Department, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol for their excellent work in this case.”

The case is a federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) criminal matter and  was investigated by the Wilson Police Department, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant United States Attorney Brad Knott prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Updated July 24, 2018

Drug Trafficking