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Press Release

North Carolina Man Who Caused Dubuque Man’s Death by Selling Him Heroin and Fentanyl Found Guilty After Jury Trial

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Earwood Used the US Postal Service to Mail Heroin and Fentanyl to the Victim

 A jury found a North Carolina man who sold fentanyl and heroin to a Dubuque man, causing his death, guilty on October 5, 2023, following a four-day jury trial.

James Adam Earwood, age 38, of Lake Lure, North Carolina, was found guilty after a jury trial.  The jury found Earwood guilty of distribution of a controlled substance, heroin and fentanyl, causing the death of another.

Evidence at trial showed that on November 18, 2021, Earwood mailed a package of heroin and fentanyl to another person.  Earwood was living in North Carolina at the time and the victim was living in Dubuque, Iowa.  The victim used the heroin and fentanyl and overdosed in the parking lot of a local business in Dubuque.  The victim survived the overdose.  One month later, on December 17, 2021, the victim received another package of heroin and fentanyl in the mail from Earwood.  The victim used the heroin and fentanyl and died shortly thereafter.  He was found deceased by hotel staff in a hotel in Dubuque, Iowa. 

Evidence showed that Earwood was using social media platforms on the dark web to arrange transactions of heroin and fentanyl with other people.  Investigators tracked down at least one other package that Earwood had sent through the US Mail which contained heroin and fentanyl.  

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ashley Corkery and Patrick Reinert, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Devra Hake, and was investigated as part of the Northern Iowa Heroin Initiative and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Dubuque Drug Task Force which includes the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office and the Dubuque Police Department, and the Rutherford County North Carolina Drug Task Force. 

Earwood is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be sentenced.  A sentencing date has not yet been set. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 22-CR-1024.

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Updated October 6, 2023

Drug Trafficking