North Carolina man sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison for drug charges

Published 8:11 am Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Ernie James, 47, of Onslow County was sentenced January 11, 2022 to 123 months in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.

According to court documents and other evidence and information presented in court, between February 2018 and June 2019, James was involved in the distribution of more than a kilogram of methamphetamine into the Eastern District of North Carolina. He had at least one person picking up methamphetamine for him to distribute, also paid people who were legitimately working for him with methamphetamine and his methamphetamine distribution involved a white supremist organization, stated the release.

“On June 27, 2019, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) developed information that James and several other people were travelling to Kinston, North Carolina to pick up several ounces of methamphetamine,” stated the release. “They received information that the deal would occur at a residence on Dale Street in Goldsboro. Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop on a truck being driven by James following the deal. During the traffic stop, James instructed a passenger to dump several ounces of methamphetamine into a drink cup as law enforcement was approaching the car. Law enforcement was able to recover the cup.”

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In August 2021, James was in custody at the Pamlico County Jail awaiting his federal sentence and he at least one other person were involved in the distribution and use of controlled substances in the jail, according to the release. The controlled substances were being sent into the jail under the guise of legal mail. The ATF, Pamlico County Sheriff’s deputies and the Craven County Sheriff’s Office worked together to uncover the drug ring.

“This is part of operation “Fighting Jelly Fish” which is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, 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,” stated the release.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Onslow, Duplin, Craven, Pamlico and Lenoir County Sheriff’s Offices and the Kinston, Holly Ridge and Goldsboro police departments investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo prosecuted.