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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

2 men arrested in ‘Operation Golfer’ sentenced for drug trafficking, firearm charges

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Two men have been sentenced to prison, both of whom were involved in a coordinated sting operation overseen by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

“Operation Golfer” led law enforcement to make two dozen arrests in drug trafficking and firearm-related charges last year. They seized more than 50 firearms, 10,000 grams of methamphetamine, 1,600 grams of cocaine, and close to 300 grams of heroin in a multi-agency undertaking. Two of the arrests included 24-year-old Naulege Johnson and 22-year-old David Hedge.

READ MORE: Cape Fear Bust: 20 arrests, 50 weapons, 10,000 grams of narcotics

Johnson will serve 10 years in prison, while Hedge received a sentence of six years. Their arrests were two of 20 spanning five counties, though both men are from Wilmington.

The task force launched “Operation Golfer” with involvement of federal, state and local agencies, including the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. BCSO took the local lead with the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, and N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.

“OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launders, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks,” according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Johnson pleaded guilty last October for distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

A year prior, in July 2021, he was busted for selling the drug to an undercover agent who worked for Brunswick County’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Johnson engaged in transactions with the same agent three times that month, selling varying amounts of meth — 32 grams on July 8, more than 100 grams on July 14 and more than 160 grams on July 22.

Of Johnson’s investigation, officers allegedly found he had been a validated a member of the United Blood Nation by law enforcement.

He had prior convictions, including a 2017 arrest for possession of a stolen firearm and a 2020 arrest for possession with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell heroin. The release details that Johnson was on probation for the heroin charge when he allegedly attempted to sell meth to the undercover agent.

Johnson also has a pending First-Degree Murder charge in New Hanover County.   

Hedge, too, was busted for selling methamphetamine to an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He also was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, including selling a stolen gun and a privately manufactured firearm — also known as a “Ghost Gun.”

“He bragged it did not have any serial numbers and couldn’t be traced by law enforcement,” according to the release, and said it was made on a 3-D printer.

On Sept. 1, 2021, the agent purchased an ounce of meth and questioned Hedge whether he was armed while dealing. The 22-year-old then showed off a handgun with a high-capacity magazine loaded with 25 rounds. The agent purchased the gun.

A week later on Sept. 8, he purchased two more loaded firearms, along with a half-ounce of meth. One gun was reported stolen.

“Non-serialized ghost guns are increasingly getting into the hands of drug traffickers and contributing to the violence in our communities,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said in the release. “Working with the ATF and local law enforcement, we are holding accountable those pushing illegal guns and drugs. The ‘untraceable’ gun the defendant once bragged about has led to a very traceable prison sentence.”

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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