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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Five Methamphetamine Traffickers Sentenced To Prison

STATESVILLE, N.C. – Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees handed down lengthy prison terms ranging from 106 to 135 months to five methamphetamine traffickers, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

The five defendants were sentenced are:

  • Juan Ernesto Ortiz-Rodriguez, 30, of Statesville, N.C., was sentenced to 135 months, followed by five years of supervised release. (5:15-cr-73)
  • Paul William Miles, 31, of Conover, N.C., was sentenced to 120 months, followed by five years of supervised release. (5:15-cr-77)
  • Daniel Verbsky Vandervelde, 41, of Conover, was sentenced to 120 months, followed by five years of supervised release. (5:16-cr-37)
  • Jerrod Michael Benfield, 35, of Hiddenite, N.C., was sentenced to 120 months, followed by five years of supervised release. (5:15-cr-73)
  • Jonathan Daniel Hatfield, 38, of Lenoir, N.C., was sentenced to 106 months, followed by five years of supervised release. (5:16-cr-3)           

 

All of the defendants were charged as part of the Western District’s ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, “Dixie Crystal.”  According to court documents, since the beginning of the investigation in 2015, 123 individuals have been prosecuted federally as a result of this investigation.  Court records show that the drug trafficking organizations involved, have trafficked methamphetamine worth millions of dollars.  Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized far in excess of 20 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, $100,000 in U.S. currency and other assets, and dozens of firearms. 

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 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 Rose thanked ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division; the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; the North Carolina State Highway Patrol; the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office; the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office, the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, the Boone Police Department, the Burke County Task Force, the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, the Hickory Police Department, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, the Lenoir Police Department, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Mooresville Police Department, the Pineville Police Department, the Statesville Police Department, the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina and Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee for their assistance in this investigation. 

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

Updated December 6, 2016