Wilmington police have arrested a man suspected of supplying a brand of heroin that has been tied to several recent overdoses in New Hanover County.
Vidal Leonard Becton, 42, has been charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver heroin, possession of a schedule II controlled substance and two counts of sell and deliver heroin, according to jail records.
“During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Becton is believed to have sold one of the brands of heroin connected to the recent rash of overdoses in the area,” Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Linda Rawley said in a news release.
Cathryn Lindsay, a spokeswoman for the police department, would not disclose which brand of heroin Becton is suspected of supplying, but said police are investigating two brands they believe are tied to a recent rash of overdoses in Wilmington and New Hanover County. Three heroin-related overdoses were reported the first weekend in May.
Becton was arrested at about 7 p.m. Wednesday during a traffic stop in the 300 block of Dawson Street.
After his arrest on outstanding warrants, police searched his home at 1631 East Plaza Drive in the Houston Moore community. When searching his home, police reportedly found a seized a military ballistic vest, heroin and “trafficking level amounts” of opiate prescription drugs, Rawley said. A teen, who was also living at the East Plaza Drive address, allegedly had ammunition and two holsters in his bedroom. The teen was released after the search warrant was executed.
Becton was taken to the New Hanover County jail and placed under a $50,000 secured bond. His bond was raised to $500,000 during his first court appearance in New Hanover County District Court on Thursday afternoon. Becton is expected in court on June 11 in connection with a 2014 arrest on charges of heroin possession and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Heroin overdoses on the rise
Police responded to a record number of heroin and opiate overdoses last month. Between April 11-12, Wilmington police responded to 10 heroin overdose calls, and said they believed there were more unreported overdoses, Rawley said.
No deaths were reported as a result of the overdoses. But in each case the person received life-saving measures from emergency medical personnel, Rawley said.
“The recent overdoses indicate that both recreational and regular daily users of heroin are at great risk of death,” Rawley said.
A total of 19 overdose cases have been reported in just the first months of 2015, while 10 total overdoses were reported the previous year–including three deaths–according to records from the police department.
No overdose deaths have been reported this year. The greatest number of overdoses occurred between March and early May, with the most recent spike in overdose calls April 11-12. A total of 19 overdoses, including five overdose deaths, occurred in 2013 and eight occurred in 2012 with no reported deaths.