Sampson County serves as a pass-through for major drug trafficking in North Carolina and along the East Coast, evident by the vast number of drug seizures made in recent years. Local authorities know that and, in an attempt to further curb illegal activity, teamed up this past week with other agencies to crack down on two routes in particular — Interstate 40 and U.S. 13.
The Sampson County Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Team hosted a multi-agency campaign on I-40 and U.S. 13, which “proactively targeted criminal activity through motor vehicle enforcement,” sheriff’s officials said. Deemed “Operation Interception,” the campaign was conducted from Monday, Sept. 18, through Wednesday, Sept. 20, with the assistance Harnett County, Duplin County and Guilford County sheriff’s offices, as well as Dunn, High Point and Thomasville police departments.
Sampson Sheriff Jimmy Thornton thanked those agencies as well as his department, and noted the success of curbing drug trafficking and cracking down on those whose illegal activity regularly occupies Sampson roadways. Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith called I-40 and U.S. 13 “major corridors for drug trafficking” in the county, the reason they were highlighted as part of the enforcement effort.
“Anytime you do something like this, it is a success,” the sheriff noted. “It’s alarming what goes on out there on I-40 and other highways. There’s all kinds of traffic that comes through the county — you wouldn’t imagine. These kinds of operations are needed.”
During the operation, there was 5,926 grams (13 pounds) of marijuana seized, as well as 5,000 Xanax pills, 12 Oxycodone and small amounts of cocaine, heroin and meth.
Among the charges doled out were two counts each of trafficking opioids and trafficking marijuana; four counts of felony maintaining a vehicle for storage of a controlled substance; three counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana; and one count each of felony possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and possession with intent to sell and deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance.
Other charges leveled during the three-day effort were two counts of fleeing to elude arrest; two counts of carrying concealed weapon; one count of possession of stolen firearm; nine counts of simple possession of marijuana; seven counts of possession drug paraphernalia; and one alcohol violation.
There were also 11 counts of driving while license revoked served, along with six counts of no operator’s license, 12 counts of registration violation, five counts of no insurance and nine counts of speeding violation. Four orders for arrest were served and two wanted persons taken into custody.
Also during the campaign, two stolen firearms were recovered, two motor vehicles seized under the state’s Fleeing to Elude law. There was also $4,530 in cash seized.
Jonathan J. Hannah, 21, of Midway, N.C., was taken into custody following one of those fleeing to elude cases.
At 6 a.m. Wednesday, deputies clocked a 2000 BMW traveling in excess of 90 mph in the 70 zone. When they attempted to stop the vehicle, the BMW sped up and led officers on a chase that spanned roughly 40 miles into Duplin County.
During the chase, the BMW hit 135 mph, nearly double the speed limit, as it traveled eastbound. The stop was first attempted around mile marker 348 and, along the way, Duplin County Sheriff’s patrol vehicles also gave chase. The vehicle ultimately exited around mile marker 384 and continued on U.S. 117, where stop sticks were deployed by Duplin Sheriff’s authorities to blow out the BMW’s tires and arrest the occupant, Hannah.
Hannah was charged with fleeing to elude, speeding 135 mph in a 70 zone, driving while license revoked, fictitious registration, failing to register vehicle, unsafe movement and failure to stop for stop sign.
While a full list of suspects arrested as part of “Interception” was not readily available from Sampson Sheriff’s officials, arrests of several of the major suspects were previously reported by The Independent.
A 23-year-old Raleigh man was arrested on I-40 Wednesday afternoon. The stop was made in the eastbound lane, near N.C. 403, reportedly for a traffic violation. During the stop, deputies found 10 pounds of marijuana. The man received a number of charges, including trafficking marijuana by possession and transport and possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana.
A 21-year-old Fuquay-Varina man stopped driving eastbound on I-40 around noon Monday, also reportedly for a traffic violation, was taken into custody on felony drug charges after 5,000 Xanax were found in the vehicle. He was charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance and maintaining a vehicle for the sale and storage of a controlled substance.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.