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Elizabeth City man sentenced for drug, firearm offenses

Yakim Paige of Elizabeth City was sentenced Thursday, February 11 to 90 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of a mixture containing fentanyl and a fentanyl precursor, aiding and abetting that crime, as well as possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina.  Paige had previously been convicted of five state felonies, including firearm, drug and assault offenses, stated the release.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in the months leading to August 2019, the Elizabeth City Police Department received information from two confidential sources that Paige was distributing heroin in Elizabeth City.

“On August 20, 2019, law enforcement set up surveillance and witnessed Paige engage in what appeared to be a hand to hand drug deal in an AutoZone parking lot,” stated the release. “He was wearing a black single-strap bookbag.

“Because Paige was on post-release supervision for a prior offense, officers notified his probation officer. The same day, probation officers went to Paige’s apartment in Elizabeth City to conduct a warrantless search with assistance from law enforcement.

“They detained Paige and two other men who were present. In the bathroom beside the toilet, officers found the black single-strap shoulder bag that Paige had been carrying at AutoZone earlier in the day,” the release continued. “In it they found his NCDMV ID card and a Ruger LCP II .380 caliber handgun, loaded with 6 rounds. They also found a digital scale and four bags that contained a mixture of Fentanyl and a schedule II fentanyl precursor called ANPP.

“In a shoe box in the living room, officers found a second firearm, a Taurus 9mm handgun loaded with 9 rounds. Elsewhere, they recovered ammunition of different calibers and a firearm magazine. In a second book bag in the living room, officers found a clear plastic bag containing more of the Fentanyl and ANPP mixture, and in the kitchen cabinets, they found a digital scale and 91 blue wax bags, commonly used to package narcotics,” stated the release. “Officers seized eight additional plastic bags of powder substance from the pockets of the other two men who were present.  Altogether, officers seized over 42 grams of substance containing ANPP and Fentanyl.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone, stated the DOJ release: “Since 2017, the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.”

The effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in those communities on a sustained basis to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking and crimes against law enforcement, stated the release.

Robert J. Higdon Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle. The Elizabeth City Police Department, Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Public Safety and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.

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