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Press Release

Shelby, N.C. Man Is Sentenced To More Than 17.5 Years For Trafficking Fentanyl And Cocaine

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney sentenced Chadwick Javon Strong, also known as “Izeem Ockman Ackridge,” 45, of Shelby, N.C., to 214 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for trafficking fentanyl and cocaine, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

According to filed court documents and court proceedings, from 2018 to July 2021, Strong distributed fentanyl and cocaine in Mecklenburg, Gaston, and Cleveland Counties. Over the course of the investigation into Strong’s drug trafficking activities, law enforcement determined that the defendant sold and possessed with intent to distribute almost one kilogram of fentanyl, and that Strong sold the fentanyl with pill markings for a different substance. In addition to the narcotics, Strong was found in possession of more than $3,000 in cash and two handguns.

Strong pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute

and distribution of fentanyl and cocaine. Strong remains in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

According to the DEA, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat in the United States. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose. According to the CDC, 107,375 people in the United States died of drug overdoses and drug poisonings in the 12-month period ending in January 2022. A staggering 67 percent of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Some of these deaths were attributed to fentanyl mixed with other illicit drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, with many users unaware they were actually taking fentanyl.

U.S. Attorney King credited today’s outcome to investigations led by the Western District’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which have resulted in the conviction of more than 70 individuals, and the seizure of over 567 kilograms of cocaine, over 30 kilograms of fentanyl, more than 17 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than six kilograms of cocaine base, and over four kilograms of heroin, 127 firearms, and more $437,000 in cash and other property.

OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles criminal organizations using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Gastonia Police Department, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, and Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office for their coordination and investigation of the case.

Assistant United States Attorneys Steven R. Kaufman and Erik Lindahl of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case. 

Updated January 25, 2023

Drug Trafficking