NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Three men were arrested and more than 54 pounds of high-grade marijuana was seized in an drug-trafficking investigation by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Vice and Narcotics Unit.
Eric Tyler Bunting, Keith Bryan Whitworth and Paul Robert Jones face several felony charges in connection with a large drug investigation that began in November and concluded this month, according sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer.
“Both Jones and Whitworth have strong ties to Chico, California, where an ongoing investigation into their involvement continues,” Brewer said. “Jones and Whitworth are suspected for the influx of hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the Wilmington area.”
During the investigation, detectives reportedly seized more than 37 pounds of marijuana from Bunting and more than 17 pounds of marijuana from Whitworth and Jones.
Whitworth was arrested in Carolina Beach with 10 pounds in his possession, Brewer said. Detectives then searched the residence of Jones and Whitworth in the 600 block of Indian Wells Way in New Hanover County. There, they seized approximately eight pounds of marijuana in the home, as well as trafficking amounts of an opiate based narcotic.
Detective then seized over 28 grams of an opiate based narcotic from a safety deposit box belonging to Jones, Brewer said.
Bunting, 26, was charged with five counts of trafficking marijuana, three counts of possession with intent to sell marijuana, three counts of felony possession of marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, and three counts of maintaining a dwelling to store marijuana. Bunting was booked at the New Hanover County jail under a $20,000 bond.
Whitworth, 57, was charged with five counts of trafficking marijuana, two counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, two counts of felony possession of marijuana, two counts of manufacturing marijuana and two counts of maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Whitworth was booked under a $100,000 secured bond.
Jones, 55, was charged with two counts of trafficking marijuana, two counts of trafficking opium or heroin, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, manufacture marijuana, felony possession of marijuana, two counts of maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance and two counts of possession of a schedule II controlled substance. Jones was given a $500,000 secured bond.