Saturday, July 13, 2024

Task force operation’s name is a literary joke, but its 32 meth convictions are pretty serious

March for our Lives organizers expect at least a 1,000 participants to congregate at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Wilmington on Saturday, March 24. (Port City Daily photo | BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
More than 30 individuals were arrested in part of the investigation into methamphetamine labs and smuggling into N.C. (Port City Daily photo file)

WILMINGTON — An ‘explosion’ of high-grade methamphetamine flooding the streets of Southeastern North Carolina led to the prosecution and sentencing of 32 individuals after a joint task force investigation called the ‘Fall of the House of Usher.’

“The investigation was part of an Organized Crime Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation entitled Operation ‘Fall of the House of Usher,” which was undertaken in direct response to the explosion of kilogram amounts of extremely potent methamphetamine (with purities as high as 99%) being imported into Duplin, Sampson and New Hanover Counties.  According to the DEA, the methamphetamine was so pure that some users reported consuming heroin to counterbalance the effects. The initial focus of the investigation was William Usher who imported multiple kilograms of methamphetamine from at least four separate Drug Trafficking Organizations in California and Georgia,” according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The investigation into local methamphetamine labs began in 2017 and culminated into the larger-scale operation involving the smuggling of high-grade meth into North Carolina.

“As part of the investigation, federal and local law enforcement conducted controlled purchases of methamphetamine and heroin, executed search warrants and conducted traffic stops. Information was also used to make arrests in California and South Carolina. Forty-one defendants were charged in this investigation, forty have pled guilty in federal court, and thirty-two have been sentenced to date,” according to the release.

The combined sentence for all the defendants is 3,351 months, an average sentence of 104 months for each defendant.

“According to law enforcement, the organization was responsible for the importation and distribution of more than 50 kilograms of methamphetamine. A total of 40 firearms and more than $400,000.00 in currency and property have been seized,” according to the press release.

The DOJ provided the following arrests and sentences for defendants:

·         WILLIAM USHER, 33, of Duplin County, NC.  USHER pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, Possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, distribution of a quantity of methamphetamine (aiding and abetting) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  USHER was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment.

·         KEVIN WHITE, 42, of Duplin County, NC. WHITE pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Distribution of a Quantity of Methamphetamine, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. WHITE was sentenced to 132 months’ imprisonment.

·         KEVIN FAIRCLOTH, 38, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. FAIRCLOTH was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment. 

·         ERIC HERNANDEZ, 24, of Sampson County, NC, pled guilty to Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Conspiracy to Possess With the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. HERNANDEZ was sentenced to 102 months’ imprisonment.

·         BRIAN SHOLAR, 53, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine. SHOLAR was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.

·         MARCUS SPANN, 19, of South Carolina, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base (Crack) and a Quantity of Heroin, Distribution and Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Heroin and Aiding and Abetting and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. SPANN was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment.

·         ERIC DUDLEY, 39, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Possession With Intent to Distribute and Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine. DUDLEY was sentenced to 220 months’ imprisonment.

·         HECTOR MENOCAL-RUIZ, 28, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. MENOCAL-RUIZ was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment.

·         DAVID GIGUIERE, 61, of Duplin County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Distribution of a Quantity of Methamphetamine and Aiding and Abetting. GIGUIERE was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment.

·         JAVIER MERCADO, 41, of California, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. MERCADO was sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment.

·         JESUS RIOS, 39, of California, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute More Than 50 Grams of Methamphetamine. RIOS was sentenced to 120 months’imprisonment.

·         AARON ROBICHAUX, 37, of New Hanover County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine and a Quantity of Cocaine and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.ROBICHUAX was sentenced to 252 months’ imprisonment.

·         JULIO NAJERA, 26, of Sampson County, NC, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, Distribution of 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and Possession With Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. NAJERA was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment.

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