Following drug investigation, Wilmington woman sentenced 14 years in prison

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington woman was sentenced Thursday to 168 months in prison following a drug investigation.

Crystal Denise James, 30, was convicted for distribution of a quantity and possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of a heroin and fentanyl mixture as well as possession of a firearm.

In August 2018, Wilmington Police Department officers searched James during a traffic stop for speeding and seized a total of 57 bags of a heroin and fentanyl mixture. According to court documents, several bindles of heroin were found in James’ front pocket. She then reached into her back pockets and revealed even more bindles.


Between April 25, 2019, and June 6, 2019, a confidential informant, working for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department, made three controlled purchases from James.

Following the latest controlled buy, law enforcement searched James’ home and discovered 5,639 bags of heroin, some of which contained acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl, 86 grams of marijuana, a .22 caliber AR-15 style rifle, manufacturing and packaging supplies, and more than $5,000.

Investigators of the case included the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Wilmington Police Department, Coastal Carolina Criminal Enterprise Task Force and the FBI, according to a Department of Justice press release.

The case was part of the Take Back North Carolina Initiative, which is focused on reducing violence, drug trafficking and crimes against police officers. Federal prosecutors work continually with law enforcement and the district attorney’s offices as part of the program.


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