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FBI drug sting leads to charges against 18 suspects

On Aug. 3, an FBI task force in North Carolina arrested 11 suspected drug dealers during a heroin sting. Authorities also charged two suspects already in custody and are searching for five more.

Federal, state and local authorities formed the Coastal Carolina Criminal Enterprise Task Force in July to fight Cape Fear's rising heroin epidemic. The task force is made up of officers from the FBI's Wilmington Resident Agency, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. Law enforcement agencies assisting in the sting operation included the Duplin County Sheriff's Office, the Jacksonville Police Department, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Wilmington Police Department.

The five suspects wanted by authorities include four men from Longwood, ranging in age from 21 to 34, and one 38-year-old woman from Green Sea, South Carolina. Most of the 13 people arrested or charged are facing various criminal counts of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine or heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. The highest secured bond was set at $3.55 million and the lowest was set at $10,000. One suspect was released on $25,000 bail. Per the mandate of the task force, the suspects can be prosecuted in either state or federal courts.

North Carolina residents facing drug charges can face serious consequences if a conviction is obtained, including lengthy prison terms and steep fines. However, they can help their situation by contacting a criminal defense attorney immediately after being taken into custody. Legal counsel could protect a defendant's rights during police questioning and develop defense strategies based on the circumstances of the case. In some situations, an attorney may recommend negotiating with prosecutors for an agreement that reduces the charges in exchange for a plea of guilty to a lesser offense.

Source: Port City Daily, "FBI task force charges 18 in sting targeting drug dealers," Aug. 5, 2016

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