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Federal Government
Federal Disaster Aid Approved For Counties Impacted By Hurricane Dorian PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 09 October 2019 11:51
President Trump approved Governor Cooper’s request for a major disaster declaration for Public Assistance for the following counties impacted by Hurricane Dorian: Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Hyde, Jones, New Hanover, Pamlico, Pender, Sampson, Tyrrell, and Washington. 
The major disaster declaration allows impacted counties to receive support from FEMA’s Public Assistance program, providing reimbursement to local governments for costs of debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities. Certain private non-profit organizations can also be eligible for reimbursement.
“North Carolina’s coastal communities – particularly Ocracoke and those on the Outer Banks – were hit hard by Hurricane Dorian and it’s critical that they have access to FEMA Public Assistance and the federal resources necessary to recover. This is a positive step and we continue to urge our federal partners and North Carolina’s congressional delegation to work to expedite approval of our request for Individual Assistance for families whose homes were destroyed as well,” said Governor Cooper.
North Carolina requested Public Assistance on September 13th. On September 21st, Governor Cooper also requested a major disaster declaration for Individual Assistance, which if approved, would provide grants to residents who suffered damages from Dorian, and could open the door to additional FEMA recovery programs, like temporary housing.
The individual assistance request remains under review and state officials have urged federal agencies and North Carolina’s congressional delegation to work to expediate federal approval.
Governor Cooper and state officials surveyed the recovery process underway on Ocracoke Island on September 23rd. Ocracoke faces unique challenges and the state continues to provide critical support services to the island including the following:
A team of emergency managers to support Hyde County officials in coordinating response and recovery efforts
Airlift of food, water and emergency personnel to island
Two Urban Search and Rescue task forces that provided the initial search of island, helped evacuate injured and assisted with donations and supply management and other tasks in days following the storm
Emergency fuel supplies and repairs to get fuel service available
Damage assessment teams to document the need for federal help
NC Office of Emergency Medical Services is providing a mobile medical clinic staffed by physician and eight-person medical team
Mental health counselors who have made hundreds of contacts with residents in need
Food preparation and feeding by volunteer organizations with more than 10,000 meals served
Laundry and shower units from Baptists on Mission
National Guard cleared roads and removed boats from roadways
Four NC Alcohol Law Enforcement agents assisting Hyde County Sheriff’s Department in addition to other counties sheriff’s deputies
Cleanup and disposal of dead fish and marine life by NC National Guard
National Guard personnel and equipment to assist with transportation and donations management
50 portable toilets and 32 handwashing stations
Several volunteer groups supported by the state are at work on the island mucking out houses
NC Department of Insurance working with insurers to remove flooded vehicles from island
Distribution of relief supplies from fire department being managed by local government, with help from volunteer agencies and local volunteers
A central receiving and distribution point has been established on the mainland to manage the flow of supplies and donated goods onto the island
The DHHS Division of Health Service Regulation will leave and maintain the mobile disaster hospital assets while the Ocracoke health center is being repaired
NCDOT and the North Carolina Ferry System are maintaining additional ferry routes between Hatteras and Ocracoke-Silver Lake to address public concerns
Joint local/state recovery center opened on the island Oct. 1 where Hyde County agencies, NC Emergency Management and voluntary relief agencies are assisting residents with housing and other unmet needs.
Duplin County Man Sentenced To 35 Years For Drug Distribution PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 03 October 2019 10:45
United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced Faruq Rose 43, of Wallace, North Carolina, to 420 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
Rose was named in a two-count Indictment filed on June 27, 2017, charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine (Count One) and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine (Count Two).  On February 26, 2019, Rose   was found guilty of Counts 1 and 2 which charged conduct that concluded on June 27, 2017. 
The investigation into this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in conjunction with the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) and the Pender County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO).  As a result of the investigation, ROSE was identified as a member of a large-scale drug trafficking organization (DTO) which utilized overnight shipping companies, such as FedEx, to ship packages containing cocaine from Arizona and California to Eastern North Carolina for distribution.
On October 21, 2016, while conducting drug interdiction at the FedEx hub in Greensboro, North Carolina, DEA officers identified two FedEx packages containing 3,996.3 grams of cocaine, which were scheduled to be delivered to an address in Wallace, North Carolina.  Authorities subsequently arranged for the controlled delivery of those packages to the Wallace residence by an undercover law enforcement officer.  Shortly after packages were delivered, authorities observed ROSE arrive at the residence, take possession of the packages, and depart in a vehicle driven by ROSE.  Moments later, authorities attempted to conduct a traffic stop of the vehicle, but ROSE accelerated to a high rate of speed, exited the highway, traveled through a business parking lot, and struck an unmarked DCSO vehicle head-on.  The vehicle was occupied by a DCSO detective.  Following the collision ROSE was placed under arrest.
Immediately following his arrest, ROSE informed authorities that he wanted to speak to them regarding his drug trafficking activities. Thereafter, ROSE participated in an interview where he confessed to being in possession of cocaine and being involved with a major DTO responsible for the distribution of cocaine in the Wallace area.  ROSE indicated that he sold kilogram quantities of cocaine for the DTO.  According to ROSE, the leader of the DTO, who was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, purchased kilogram quantities of cocaine from an unknown Mexican drug trafficker in California.  The leader would then ship the cocaine from California to ROSE for distribution.  ROSE acknowledged that over the prior several months, he had received approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine from his supplier, and that he subsequently sold another individual the same quantity of cocaine for $38,000 per kilogram.  ROSE noted that he received $5,000 per kilogram of cocaine he sold.   ROSE informed authorities that after receiving payment for the cocaine from his buyer, he would transport the currency in a secret compartment in his vehicle back to his supplier in the Philadelphia area. 
During the interview, ROSE informed law enforcement that there were no drugs, weapons, or large amounts of currency at his residence and consented to a search of his property.  A search of ROSE’S vehicle revealed the hidden compartment which ROSE had described.  While searching ROSE’S residence, authorities located a large duffle bag containing 2 pounds of marijuana, three digital scales, a vacuum sealer, four boxes of plastic bags, and a FedEx receipt.  ROSE acknowledged that he had paid $2,000 per pound for the marijuana.  ROSE further noted that the FedEx receipt was from the shipment of marijuana.   
Based on the investigation, ROSE is accountable for the possession of 13.9963 kilograms of cocaine and 2 pounds of marijuana.  While attempting to flee from law enforcement, ROSE recklessly created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person by traveling at a high rate of speed both on marked roads and through a business parking lot.  Additionally, ROSE crashed into one of the unmarked police vehicles head-on, creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to the law enforcement officer.  Further, ROSE attempted to obstruct justice through both written and telephonic communication wherein he tried to convince a witness to change his/her testimony for his trial.
This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office and the Pender County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Brad Knott represented the United States in this case.
Former Marine Pleads Guilty To Pushing Opioids PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 03 October 2019 10:19

United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, Chief United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle accepted a guilty plea by Marcos Jamie Villegas, 24, of St. Charles, Illinois, to distributing a quantity of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of oxycodone and fentanyl, and aiding and abetting.

According to the investigation, on April 14, 2017, United States Marine Corporal Mark M. Mambulao and VILLEGAS were visiting at a local residence in Richlands, North Carolina. During the party,VILLEGAS provided Mambulao with pills that he and fellow Marine Sergeant Anthony P. Tognietti had purchased over the dark web.  The pills had been advertised as oxycodone laced with fentanyl, a highly powerful opiate that can be lethal in even small doses.  In the early hours of April 15, 2017, VILLEGAS discovered Mambulao unresponsive. Mambulao was taken to Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and died shortly after his arrival. Mambulao’s autopsy revealed his cause of death as fentanyl overdose and low alcohol content.  Mambulao was just 20 years old at the time of his death.

Investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) revealed that just a few weeks later, similar pills were seized from VILLEGAS’s barracks room.  The pills were later sent off for testing and came back positive for fentanyl.  Examination of VILLEGAS’s cellular phone revealed text messages discussing purchases of drugs.  Further coordination by NCIS with the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration linked the pills purchased by VILLEGAS and Tognietti to a manufacturer and dark web distributor in Texas.  That man, Alaa Mohammed Allawi, 30, was later charged and pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl resulting in death or serious bodily injury and using a gun during a drug crime. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.  As part of the deal, Allawi agreed to be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

Tognietti was charged by a Criminal Information filed on March 27, 2019 for distributing a quantity of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of oxycodone and fentanyl, and aiding and abetting.  On April 17, 2019, he pled guilty to that charge and awaits sentencing in October 2019.  Both Tognietti and VILLEGAS face up to twenty years’ imprisonment.


Drug Convictions Earn Wilmington Gang Member 10-Year Federal Prison Sentence PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 02 October 2019 08:18
 Chief United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced Taveon Nixon,  21, of Wilmington, North Carolina to 120 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
On December 20, 2018, a Grand Jury sitting in the Eastern District of North Carolina returned a four-count indictment, charging Nixon with three counts of distribution of heroin and one count of possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin and quantity of cocaine base (crack). On May 20, 2019, Nixon pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of heroin and possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin and a quantity of cocaine base (crack).
According to the investigation, on November 29 and December 4, 2018, the Wilmington Police Department made two controlled purchases of heroin from Nixon in the area of South 9th Street in Wilmington.
On December 10, 2018, officers with the Security Threat Unit of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety conducted a warrantless probationary search at the NIXON’s residence in Wilmington. NIXON was on probation for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Law enforcement found heroin, crack cocaine, and $1,400 cash. NIXON was arrested as a result. Following this arrest, NIXON removed an ankle monitor in an attempt to evade law enforcement. According to law enforcement, NIXON was a validated gang member.
On January 17, 2019, NIXON had an outstanding federal arrest warrant. Law enforcement received information that NIXON was the passenger in a car with other gang members. Task Force Officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and members of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office attempted to make a traffic stop at a gas station in New Hanover County. The driver struck a law enforcement car, while NIXON fled on foot. NIXON was arrested following a foot chase. Law enforcement found more than 250 bindles of heroin in the car and United States Currency. The driver and another passenger are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court later this month.
This case is part of an FBI-led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation named “Dodge Ball.” This operation is focused on members of the Nine Trey sect of the United Blood Nation, a violent gang in Wilmington, North Carolina involved in the distribution of heroin, possession of firearms and associated violence. This is a joint investigation by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force (Gang Unit), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Wilmington Police Department, and New Hanover Sheriff’s Office. The FBI Safe Streets Task Force and ATF utilize resources from federal, state, and local law enforcement in order to efficiently and effectively target and combat criminal gangs and drug trafficking organizations operating in coastal southern North Carolina. A key component of federal task force’s success involves the use of task force officers from local law enforcement who have direct knowledge of the criminal gang activity in their areas.
This case is also part of the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Wilmington Police Department, and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Severo prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.
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