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Press Release

Convicted Sex Offender Found Guilty On Drug Conspiracy And Related Charges

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. B Late yesterday, a Charlotte federal jury convicted Keith Antonio Barnett, 46, of Gastonia, N.C., of drug conspiracy and related drug charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

U.S. Attorney Murray is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division; Nick S. Annan, Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas; Chief Robert C. Helton of the Gastonia Police Department; and Chief Joseph D. Ramey of the Gaston County Police Department.

According to filed court documents and evidence presented at trial, beginning from at least 2016, Barnett was part of a drug conspiracy operating in Gaston County.  Trial evidence established that, during the relevant time period, Barnett was responsible for trafficking more than 280 grams of crack cocaine.  The evidence at trial also established that, in October 2017, while executing a search warrant at a Gaston County residence that was being used as a drug house, law enforcement arrested Barnett, and recovered more than 120 grams of crack cocaine, over 40 grams of cocaine, more than six grams of heroin, and approximately $3,000 in cash. 

The jury convicted Barnett of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine; distribution and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin.

Barnett has a prior criminal history that includes two convictions for Possession of Crack Cocaine in 1991; Indecent Liberties with a Child in 1997; Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature in 2006; Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in 2010; and Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in 2013.

Barnett is currently in federal custody.  At sentencing, Barnett faces a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $20 million. A sentencing date has not been set.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which 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 drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray credited the FBI and HSI in Charlotte for their investigation of this case, and thanked the Gastonia Police Department and Gaston County Police Department for their invaluable assistance. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven R. Kaufman and Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, are in charge of the prosecution.


Updated November 21, 2018

Drug Trafficking