U.S. Marshals, deputies arrest 12 in Operation Safe Neighborhood

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Deputies check on a sex offender at an address in Holden Beach. Photos by Christina Haley.
Deputies check on a registered sex offender at a home in Holden Beach. Photo by Christina Haley.

U.S. Marshals, deputies and probation officers arrested several people this week during a sex offender compliance check held in Brunswick and Columbus counties.

Operation Safe Neighborhood began Tuesday morning as approximately 60 law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. Department of Public Safety went door to door to verify that all registered offenders were in compliance with state guidelines, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Bryan Konig.

During the course of the operation, authorities visited the homes of 299 registered sex offenders, Konig said.

Of the nearly 300 registered sex offenders within the two counties, 197 are in Brunswick County, according to Brunswick County Sheriff’s Deputy Damien Gunnel.

Read related story: U.S. Marshals, deputies check nearly 200 registered sex offenders in Brunswick County

“This operation is the first of its kind in this area of the state, and follows the successful conclusion of other such operations sponsored by the U.S. Marshals in the Eastern District of North Carolina,” Konig said. “Additional charges are likely forthcoming as a result of ongoing investigations.”

While authorities verified the compliance of registered sex offenders, 12 people were arrested, Konig said. Law enforcement also seized eight firearms along with ammunition and drugs.

Konig noted the arrest of 28-year-old Christopher King and 42-year-old David Darst in Brunswick County.

King, of Supply, was charged with multiple breaking and entering charges as well as possession of marijuana. According to jail records, he was booked at the Brunswick County jail under a $5,500 secured bond. He is not listed on the N.C. Sex Offender Registry.

Darst, of Southport, was charged with manufacturing marijuana. He was booked at the Brunswick County jail under a $2,000 bond and later released, according to jail records.

Darst is a registered sex offender. According to the N.C. Sex Offender Registry, he was convicted of four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor in January 2001.

“Operations such as this not only give the community peace of mind in knowing that the registered sex offenders who may be in their neighborhoods are being monitored and held accountable, but also that various agencies on the local, state and federal levels are playing an active role in keeping those offenders in compliance,” Brunswick County Sheriff John W. Ingram said.

Authorities looked for offenders who have been convicted of a range of crimes including, indecent liberties with children, incest and rape, Gunnel said. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office conducts sex offender compliance checks once a month.