Local authorities announce major drug bust

Mebane Police Department Chief Terry Caldwell (left) speaks alongside Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson (right) during a press conference at the Historic Alamance County Courthouse in Graham the afternoon of Thursday, May 30. The Sheriff's Office and local authorities announced a series of drug busts from all over Alamance County, including several from Mebane. 

On the afternoon of Thursday, May 30, members of Alamance County’s law enforcement community came together at the Historic Alamance County Courthouse in downtown Graham to describe a significant series of narcotics arrests. 

Over the last 17 months ANET - known as the Alamance Narcotics Enforcement Team - working on conjunction with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, conducted a joint drug trafficking investigation in Alamance County. This organization is responsible for trafficking millions of dollars worth of cocaine.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce the completion of a drug operation dubbed “Smooth Operator,” which started in October of 2017,” Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said. “This operation was conducted by the Alamance County Narcotics Enforcement Team known as ANET, which is comprised of all the law enforcement agencies from Alamance County. I am very proud to say that these individuals who worked these particular operation were like a well-oiled machine. This operation was supported by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).” 

“This operation was aimed at curbing the drug traffic coming across the Southern borders ending up in Alamance County, North Carolina,” the Sheriff continued. “These drugs were being distributed in our country and the surrounding counties to Alamance. Major drug traffickers of the Sinaloa cartel, operating in Alamance County, along with the local wholesale dealers in Alamance County, have been arrested in this operation.”

Nearly thirty different offenders were identified in this investigation and have either been arrested or are currently wanted. According to Sheriff Terry Johnson, throughout this investigation 110 kilograms of cocaine - approximately 242 pounds - were seized, with an estimated street value of $3,685,000. In addition, seven pounds of marijuana was seized, along with $1,325,000 in currency. 12 vehicles, two trailers, one motorcycle, and one golf cart were also seized, along with numerous firearms.

A total of five individuals with Mebane residences were among those arrested and charged with various offenses, mostly associated with trafficking cocaine. Another Mebane resident is among those that law enforcement is currently seeking. The five arrested Mebanites involved in this operation are as follows:

---Joseph Bernard Long Sr., B/M 6-14-70, AKA-"Smooth."

2315 Melfield Drive

Mebane, NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Conspiracy Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $1,000,000

---Benny Albright, B/M 10-9-76

2235 Kimrey Rd

Mebane NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $200,000

---Daniel Alavarez Camacho, H/M 11-4-87

5502 Glenn Street

Mebane, NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Curtis Ray Shaw, B/M 10-27-72

2547 US 70

Mebane NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $80,000

---Cedric Williams, B/M 4-7-80

605 Anna Drive

Mebane NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $20,000

Mebane Police Chief Terry Caldwell spoke about the dedication of ANET and local law enforcement agencies throughout Alamance County to catch these suspects.

“I just want to reiterate the fact that this is a pretty impressive operation,” Chief Caldwell said. “This is about commitment. This is about commitment to the people who live and visit Alamance County and surrounding areas. This is about the commitment not only by our officers who work in drugs, but the officers on the street who help develop these cases. Who help these guys and ladies get things done in the background.” 

“We’re bound and determined in this county to rid this area of drugs as best we can,” Caldwell continued. “As the Sheriff said, I think we all realize that it’s tough to always completely rid a county or area of drugs. But we’re committed to making this happen. We are committed to fighting this war as long as we need to, to reduce crime.” 

Caldwell addressed the fact that he was recently approached by a local resident and asked why it seemed that law enforcement could only nab small-scale drug dealers. Operation “Smooth Operator,” which was picked up nationally by newsweek.com and other outlets, is an indication that this time around, Alamance County succeeded on a much higher level in its efforts to slow down the local drug trade. 

“I think I can say very truthfully that these guys and ladies have taken some of the big fish off the streets,” Caldwell stated. “Their efforts will not stop today. They will continue. Because we all know how the cycle of drug operations works. You remove one layer, and then it’s on to the next. Somebody replaces you. Somebody wants to step in.” 

“We want the offenders to understand that people choose to go about their business their way, but law enforcement is going to stay committed and united in our efforts to fight the war on drugs,” the MPD Chief continued. “And we will take as long as we need, and we will go as far as we need to go, using every law enforcement resource in the United States - the feds, down to our local agencies - to combat this war on drugs.”

ANET is made up of law enforcement members from across Alamance County. Chris Smith of the Burlington Police Department currently heads up the task force. Representatives of the SBI and DEA were onhand at the press conference. 

“This is a unified group working together in every jurisdiction for the residents of Alamance County,” said Byron Tucker, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer. 

“There were arrests made at houses. Some were picked up on the highway. You name it,” Sheriff Johnson said of the various arrests. “There were some areas all over this county that some of these people lived in, stashed drugs in, stashed money in. It was moved all over the county to other wholesalers, who were buying the drugs from these guys.”

The biggest roundup was conducted last week in Alamance County, as 12 suspects were apprehended on May 29 using over 100 law enforcement officers, including the Orange County and Caswell County Sheriff’s Offices. Johnson indicated that a total of nine search warrants were executed by the ANET officers in the operation. A total of 28 individuals have been or will be charged on a total of 50 drug trafficking and firearms charges in relation to this operation. All suspects will be charged in North Carolina state court for their various offenses. 

Here are the names of the other suspects who were arrested throughout Alamance County in Operation "Smooth Operator."

---Lemarcus Andrew Carter, B/M 1-10-84

1013 Harvey Drive 

Burlington, NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Sell /Deliver Cocaine, Conspire to Traffic Cocaine

---Sedrick Lamonte Rogers, B/M 8-17-82

2105 Shady Ln

Burlington, NC

Conspire Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $20,000

---Joseph Bernard Long Jr, B/M 6-10-92

338 Williamson Ave

Burlington, NC

(2) counts Trafficking Cocaine, Sell/Deliver Cocaine, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $140,000

---Robert Bernard Johnson, B/M 7-22-86

307 Coble Street

Burlington, NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Conspiracy Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $20,000

---Brooks Demond Packingham, B/M 12-15-1981

1038 Sycamore Rd, APT F

Graham, NC

Possession with Intent Sale Deliver Marijuana

Possession Firearm by Felon

---Nicholas Ryan Aguayo Lopez, H/M 3-12-90

2445 Walnut Ridge Rd

Randleman NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Sergio Arroyo Vertiz, H/M 1-17-92

7837 Pegg Neave Rd

Snow Camp, NC

Trafficking Cocaine

---Ezekial Hernandez, H/M 2-26-98

557 Dixon Dr.

Burlington NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Eliel Marin Lopez, H/M , 4-10-99

2431 N Church Street

Burlington, NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Tamork Atkins, B/M 9-2-80

1294 Aster Way

Burlington NC

Trafficking Cocaine, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Possession of a Weapon by Felon

Bond: $200,000

---Kevin Milliken, B/M 1-20-72

3191 NC HWY 87 N

Pittsboro, NC

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $20,000

---JaTonia Crisp, B/F, 12/1/1970

406 E Market Street,

Graham NC

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $20,000

---Luis Alfredo Pantillas-Crespo, H/M 4-21-71

1505 W Front Street

 Burlington NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Jose Manuel Plantillas-Crespo, H/M 10-4-74

1505 W Front Street

Burlington NC

Trafficking Cocaine

---Jorge Luis Figueroa, H/M 6-14-72

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Carlos Rafael Fernandez, H/M 9-15-87

219 Trimble Trail

Elon NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Jennifer Nguyen, A/F 11-25-92

4024 Rounding Bend Lane

Wilmington NC

Trafficking Cocaine

---Alonzo Smith, B/M 10-17-74

712 N Sellars Mill Rd

Burlington NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Bond: $520,000

---Deshannon Ray Chambers, B/M 1-9-82

1705 Highview Street

Burlington NC

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

Four suspects identified in the investigation have not yet been arrested. Those individuals are wanted by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office and are listed as follows:

---Rashaun Obrien Conner, B/M 9-26-92

20512 US Hwy 17

Hamstead NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Michael Dixon, B/M 1-25-91

120 Eastway Lane

Graham NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Andy Gonzalez, H/M 4-24-93

2061 N Hwy 49 Lt 4

Burlington NC

Trafficking Cocaine

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

---Mark Anthony Pounds, 43

5181 Virginia Pine Trail

Mebane NC

Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine

“There’s four that have not been arrested,” Johnson indicated. “Some of those individuals are members of the Sinaloa cartel that have been operating in Alamance County. And certainly those wholesale dealers were dealing the product brought in by the cartel.” 

Johnson warned the public to treat these at-large individuals as armed and dangerous.

“Every drug dealer dealing drugs usually is armed and dangerous. We have chases. We take guns. There were a lot of guns taken off these people, and gun charges filed,” Johnson replied. 

The Sheriff praised the teamwork of the local agencies, working with state and federal authorities, to share vital information and pool their resources to make these important busts. 

“(It’s been) a lot of long nights and days for our ANET group. These individuals are very dedicated,” Johnson said. “Because when something rolls, they have to roll. Whether it’s a family outing, whether it’s Christmas or whatever, when something happens, they have to go. That’s why we’re very appreciative of this group.

“All the local agencies standing before you, the Chief of Police, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, this is a prime example of if we work together, we can accomplish a lot in this county,” the Sheriff added. “We still have a long way to go stopping the flow of drugs coming into Alamance County. But law enforcement in this county is committed to that endeavor. There will be more (arrests) to come.” 

“This group, working in a concerted effort, will not tolerate drugs being dealt on the streets of Alamance County. And we will use every possible means within the Constitution of the United States to apprehend and effectively prosecute the individuals in these cases. Our children, our communities, are too valuable to us to allow this to go on. Working together, we can make a difference in this county. And this is a prime example.”

Community involvement is important in these investigations. If you have a concern or problem in your neighborhood, please contact your local law enforcement agency in your jurisdiction. These complaints will be reviewed or investigated by the Alamance County Narcotics Enforcement Team. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 336-229-7100.