Eight Charged In Drug Conspiracy Operating In Mecklenburg County
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – United States Attorney R. Andrew Murray announced today that eight individuals are facing federal drug conspiracy charges for their involvement in a narcotics distribution ring operating in Mecklenburg County. A federal criminal indictment was filed on February 22, 2018, and was unsealed late yesterday in federal court following arrests conducted during an early morning round-up.
“The federal charges announced today are the culmination of a 10-month investigation into a drug conspiracy responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin in the Western District. The arrests of these individuals are a testament to the high level of cooperation between our federal and local law enforcement counterparts as we work together to achieve our common goal: to disrupt drug networks from operating in this district and to stem the flow of drugs they pour into our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.
“Drug abuse is a growing concern across North Carolina. Drug dealers victimize our communities, strain law enforcement resources, and diminish quality of life for everyone. The FBI will continue to join forces with our state and local law enforcements partners to track down these offenders to end the deadly cycle of drug abuse in our communities,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.
“This investigation is a good example of what ATF agents do on a daily basis. It also reflects our commitment to removing drug traffickers and their co-conspirators from our streets. ATF will continue to work collaboratively with our federal, state and local investigative partners to identify and apprehend violent career criminals and keep our communities safe,” said Wayne Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“The role of IRS, Criminal Investigation in narcotics investigations is to follow the money, which enabled us to financially disrupt and dismantle this major drug trafficking organization. We were proud to provide this financial expertise as we worked alongside our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice,” said Matthew D. Line, Acting Special Agent in Charge for IRS-CI.
“We will continue to work with our federal partners to identify and arrest anyone who brings these dangerous and highly-addictive drugs into our community,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney. “They are destroying families. We must do everything we can to combat these deadly drugs and the many crimes they bring with them," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney.
“We are grateful for the hard work of all the federal agents, local officers and federal prosecutors who participated in this long term drug investigation. Unfortunately, heroin and methamphetamine has impacted virtually every community in the country, including Union County, and we must continue to use all available resources to protect our citizens and bring dealers to justice. Too many families have lost loved ones as a result of this epidemic, so every drug dealer taken off the street is potentially saving someone’s life,” said Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey.
“I commend the work and efforts of all the individual officers and agents involved in this investigation. This investigation demonstrates the value of professional partnerships across jurisdictional lines and sharing resources to keep our communities safe,” said Gastonia Police Chief Robert C. Helton
According to allegations contained in the criminal indictment and other filed court documents, from 2015 until the present, the defendants operated as a drug conspiracy responsible for trafficking methamphetamine and heroin in Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas. The defendants named in the 33-count indictment are all charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Some of the defendants face additional drug trafficking and money laundering offenses. Those named in the indictment are:
- Emilio Mejia, 28, of Charlotte. (arrested)
- Rodolfo Medina, 47, of Charlotte. (arrested)
- Jose Javier Reyes, 19, of Charlotte. (previously arrested on a complaint)
- Mauco Contreras, 21, of Charlotte. (arrested)
- Kevin Eliezer Velasquez Melendez, 18, of Concord, N.C. (previously arrested on a complaint)
- Alejandro Jose Lopez Ceballos, 20, residence unknown. (arrested)
- Martha Olivia Placencia Beltran, 48, of Charlotte. (arrested)
- Edgar Jesus Magana, 24, of Charlotte. (arrested)
Rodolfo Medina, Jose Reyes, and Kevin Velasquez Melendez are also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin. Emilio Mejia, Kevin Velasquez Melendez, Mauco Contreras, and Alejandro Ceballos are charged with additional counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Rodolfo Medina and Martha Beltran are also facing charges of international money laundering, stemming from money transfers of drug proceeds wired to Mexico.
A separate criminal indictment was filed charging Brandy Nicole Short, 34, of Gastonia, N.C. with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, bringing the total number of those arrested in connection this investigation to nine.
The penalties associated with the drug charges range from a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of up to life in prison and a monetary fine of up to $10 million. The money laundering charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray praised the outstanding efforts of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Wayne Dixie; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Charlotte Field Office (IRS-CI) under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line; officers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department under the direction of Chief Kerr Putney; the Gastonia Police Department under the direction of Chief Robert C. Helton; the Monroe Police Department under the direction of Chief J. Bryan Gilliard; and deputies of the Union County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of Sheriff Eddie Cathey. U.S. Attorney Murray also noted the invaluable assistance provided by the North Carolina National Guard Counterdrug Program.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Dillon and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Lindahl of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are prosecuting the case.
This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the 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.