The growing presence of heroin and fentanyl in Wilkes County is reflected in 30 drug arrests announced Friday, Capt. Craig Dancy, who directs drug investigations for the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office.
Dancy said the prevalence of heroin in Wilkes had increased steadily over the past two years. He said the street price of heroin has also increased and is now around $40 to $50 a “point” (tenth of a gram) here.
He estimates that about 90% of the heroin sold in Wilkes is laced with fentanyl, increasing its potency and the risk of overdose.
Fentanyl is also used as an active ingredient in counterfeit products sold as prescription pain relievers. These were the basis for some of the 30 arrests announced on Friday.
Accordingly, methamphetamine dominance and street prices have fallen. “Meth was over $1,000 an ounce a little over two years ago and it’s $400 to $600 now,” Dancy said.
The 30 arrests resulted in the seizure of 1,220 grams of fentanyl (including counterfeit painkillers) with a street value of approximately $72,000; 856 grams of meth worth about $30,000; 786 grams of heroin worth about $43,000; 180 grams of cocaine worth about $7,000; 122 prescription pills worth about $4,000.
These arrests were made within the last three or four months. For over a decade, the sheriff’s office has announced cumulative drug arrests several times a year to allow time to investigate cases related to initial arrests.
Four of the arrests announced Friday concern people charged with level three heroin trafficking, the most serious offense of heroin possession. It is caught with at least 28 grams of heroin and faces a sentence of 225 to 282 months in prison and a minimum $500,000 fine if convicted.
One of the four is Dakota James Hamilton, 26, of Key Ridge Road in the community of Rock Creek. Dancy said 630 grams of heroin were seized when Hamilton was arrested on April 20.
Dancy said investigators believe Hamilton is one of the largest heroin suppliers in Wilkes, selling heroin direct from Mexico. In addition to one count of trafficking in heroin, Hamilton faces charges of possession with intent to sell and supply heroin (PWISD), maintaining an apartment for storage of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Larry Lee Shumate, 58, of Dehart Community Center Road, Hays, is also charged with level three heroin trafficking and PWISD-fentanyl and PWISD-meth.
Dancy said the other two of the four, Frankie Wayne Blevins, 54, of Hollow Tree Lane, Hays, and Alan Scott Dimmette, 51, of Asbury Drive, Hays, were linked.
He said Blevins had 85 grams of heroin and 594 grams of meth when he was arrested on April 13. Blevins is charged with three counts of heroin trafficking (level three), three counts of meth trafficking, and one each of PWISD heroin and PWISD meth. Dimmette is charged with heroin trafficking (level three), meth trafficking and maintaining a controlled substance vehicle.
Dancy said when Arnold Lee Hawkins Sr., 70, of Hollow Tree Lane, Hays, was arrested on April 8 for double heroin trafficking, $77,000 in cash, 12 grams of heroin, 3.5 grams of meth and 75 pills were seized. Hawkins is also tasked with maintaining a vehicle and residence for controlled substances, PWISD heroin, PWISD pills, and PWISD meth.
He said investigators believe Alejandro Pineda-Agustin, 45, of Jolly Street, North Wilkesboro, and Rosemary Perez Cruz, 26, of Moravian Mill Road, Moravian Falls, trafficked drugs brought into Charlotte by runners running under Yonel Astello-Posada, a former resident of Wilkes who now resides in Mexico. He said Astello-Posada was living in Wilkes when he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison on federal drug charges.
Pineda-Agustin and Cruz are among the arrests announced Friday, but the sheriff’s office has no charges against Astello-Posada. Pineda-Agustin and Cruz each face one count of trafficking in fentanyl and PWISD-fentanyl. Pineda-Agustin is also charged with three counts of trafficking meth and maintaining a controlled substance vehicle. Cruz also faces PWISD marijuana and child molestation charges.
Dancy said a search of the home of Brent Andrew Reynolds, 32, and his wife Brandi Byrd Reynolds, 30, at Old 60 in Clingman in February resulted in both being charged with trafficking in fentanyl, PWISD fentanyl, PWISD marijuana and maintained a home holding controlled substances and two counts of child abuse due to children being in the vicinity of illegal drugs.
Nancy Leanne Gregory, 47, is charged with PWISD fentanyl and Christopher Lee Hutchens, 37, is charged with servicing a vehicle for fentanyl. Both live on Mayberry Mill Road, Hamptonville
Charged with meth trafficking are:
• Maurice Lamar Kennedy, 56, Winston Road, North Wilkesboro (two counts), and PWISD meth and PWISD cocaine;
• Shannon Marie Kilpatrick, 43, Moravian Falls Road, Moravian Falls (two counts) and Jason Allen St Clair, 40, Edmiston Road, Boomer in same case. Kilpatrick is also charged with PWISD meth and St. Clair with servicing a controlled substance vehicle;
• Perry James Anderson, 37, of Allison Lane, North Wilkesboro, and PWISD-Meth and Maintaining a Controlled Substances Vehicle.
Also charged are Joshua John Stone, 37, of Knoxville, Tennessee; Misty Marie McCann, 39, Wilkes-Yadkin Road, Roaring River; Raymond Ray Daye. 52, Drywall Street, State Street; and Joann Denny Russell, 60, Hillcrest Drive, Elkin. Stone and McCann both face meth possession charges. Daye and Russell are both charged with PWISD meth and maintaining a controlled substances apartment.
Charged with PWISD meth on separate counts are Mark Ray Key, 49, Rhoades Street, North Wilkesboro; David Bynum Walsh, 53, Walshtown Road, Boomer; and Michael Anthony Key, 60, Boone Gap Road, Boomer. Walsh and Mark Key are also tasked with servicing a controlled substance vehicle. Walsh is also accused of possessing a firearm while he was a felon.
Charged with possession of meth on separate counts are Samantha Nicole Smithey, 35, of Falls Road, Moravian Falls, and Jeffrey Allen Jenkins, 35, of Jack Russell Road, Moravian Falls.
Charged in separate counts of trafficking in cocaine, PWISD cocaine and maintaining a controlled substance vehicle are Jessica Leann Hampton, 31, River Street, Wilkesboro (trafficking in two counts); Debra Kay Lankford, 61, Rosemont Drive, North Wilkesboro; and Jamel Laponte Allen, 40, E Street, North Wilkesboro. Lankford and Allen are also accused of possessing a firearm while a criminal and Allen is also charged with PWISD mushrooms.
Indicted on separate PWISD cocaine counts are Kathy Elaine Harris, 64, Anderson Street, Wilkesboro; Larry Don Brown, 62, Friendship Cross Street, North Wilkesboro; and William Tyler Church, 31, Old Highway 60, North Wilkesboro. Church and Harris also face charges of operating a controlled substance vehicle, Brown also faces charges of selling cocaine, and Harris also faces charges of PWISD pills.
Dancy acknowledged the help of NC Alcohol Law Enforcement Agent Trevor Howard, Triad ABC officers, Det. Tim Simms of the Alexander Sheriff’s Office and his drug dog, the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, the North Wilkesboro Police Department and state probation officers. “A few citizens have done everything with their help,” he added.