Federal jury convicts North Carolina man of narcotics and firearms offenses

Published 3:30 am Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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A federal jury convicted a Jacksonville man February 8 on  charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute one (1) kilogram or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a quantity of marijuana and five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine; distribution of a quantity of heroin and aiding and abetting; possess with the intent to distribute one hundred (100) grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a quantity of marijuana and a quantity of cocaine; possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of firearms by a convicted felon, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Austin Kyle Lee, also known as Justin, 30, of Jacksonville, sold heroin to dealers in Jacksonville on multiple occasions, beginning in 2016. Through further investigation, it was determined that Lee, who was on parole for a felony drug conviction out of New York, was maintaining a house next door to his probation-official residence, according to the release.

“Officers searched Lee’s stash house on Ridge View Drive and found over $210,000.00 in cash, 354.4 grams of cocaine, 159.72 grams of heroin, and 118.95 grams of marijuana. Additionally, a loaded Glock 19 9mm pistol, Kel-Tec 9mm pistol, and Jiminez Arms .22 pistol with obliterated serial number were located in the house. Over the course of approximately two years, Lee distributed around 5 kilograms of heroin, 20 kilograms of cocaine, and 1.75 pounds of marijuana,” stated the release.

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Lee faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment when sentenced in July 2021.

Robert J. Higdon Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan accepted the verdict. The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Duplin County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lucy Brown and Robert Dodson are prosecuting the case.