Home Local Former Town Commissioner Among 13 Charged In Major Drug Bust
Former Town Commissioner Among 13 Charged In Major Drug Bust PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 September 2011 15:25

A five-month, multi-agency investigation has netted 13 alleged drug dealers, seizing more than $1.2 million in cocaine, $19,000 in cash and has brought down a cocaine cartel that involves a double murder suspect and a former Benson town commissioner.

Officials from the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office released information Monday surrounding the major cocaine seizure, which totaled more than 6,000 grams, and announced that a drug trafficking network in all three counties had been shut down.

The 13 arrested, each charged with at least one count of trafficking or conspiracy to traffic cocaine, include:
• Carlos Villa Baltazar, 24, of Skyline Drive, Angier, placed under a $80,000 secured bond;
• Sixto Villa Baltazar, 43, of N.C. 50, Benson, placed under a $300,000 secured bond;
• former Benson Commissioner Maynard Scott Barnes, 48, of West Main Street, Benson, placed under a $1 million secured bond;
• Ashley Josette Barreto, 20, of Angier, released on a $10,000 unsecured bond;
• Kimberly Ann Brown, 40, of Coats, released on a $10,000 unsecured bond;
• Karlee Avontia Dublin, 36, of Bunn Road, Kenly, placed under a $500,000 secured bond;
• Anthony Leon Ellis, 35, of Montgomery Heights Road, Selma, placed under a $3 million secured bond;
• Rita Guadioso Harrington, 46, of Benson-Hardee Road, Benson, placed under a $500,000 secured bond;
• double murder suspect Venustiano Mondragon Lucas, 34, of Monk Drive, Raleigh, placed under a $10 million secured bond;
• Jorge Ivan Medina, 41, of Piney Grove Road, Angier, placed under a $80,000 secured bond;
• Donald Fitzgerald Strickland, 45, of McLamb Road, Dunn, placed under a $500,000 secured bond;
• Willie Lee Strickland Jr., 42, of Deanne Lane, Coats, placed under a $10 million secured bond; and
• José Carlos Uriostegui, 22, of Buffalo Road, Clayton, placed under a $3 million secured bond.

Scott Barnes, who owns and operates Barnes Lube Express on Wall Street in Benson, (top right) and Venustiano Lucas (lower left) are no strangers to crime.  Mr. Barnes, a former councilman, was arrested in July 2002 on charges of embezzling $144,000 as a loan officer at First Citizens Bank in Benson.

Mr. Lucas has been transferred to the Wake County Jail where he faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Agustin Yoni Gonzalez and Roger Trujillo Perez, who were found dead June 24 near N.C. 42 in Willow Spring. He has been charged with 13 total counts of trafficking cocaine and six counts of conspiring to traffic cocaine during this latest drug bust. José Uriostegui faces a total of five counts of trafficking and four counts of conspiring to traffic cocaine.

Additional charges for the aforementioned drug suspects include Carlos Baltazar, who faces one count of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and resist, delay and obstruction; and Sixto Baltazar, Rita Harrington, Jorge Medina and Anthony Ellis, each facing one additional count of trafficking cocaine.

Willie Strickland Jr. faces a total of 12 counts of trafficking and five counts of conspiring to traffic cocaine; and Anthony Ellis faces two counts of conspiring to traffic cocaine.    

Extensive Investigation
Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said Monday he was relieved that the five-month investigation was coming to fruition.  “Citizens don’t realize just how long it takes to make some of these arrests. I get frustrated just like everyone else, wanting to get these thugs off the street,” he said.

Sheriff Rollins said the source of cocaine seized during the recent bust has allegedly “been derived from drug cartels based out of Mexico where they are responsible for, not only drug manufacturing and distribution in and around Mexico but the transportation of vast quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana into the Triangle and Sandhills areas of North Carolina.”

Harnett County Sheriff’s officials report the multi-faceted investigation was conducted in partnership with the Harnett County narcotics division, the N.C State Bureau of Investigation, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, the Benson Police Department and the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration.

“This has been a great investigation where multiple agencies were working together to accomplish one goal,” the sheriff said. “Of course, I keep saying that taking dopers off the street is all a part of my bucket list. It’s a good day when we put these thugs behind bars for a long time to come.”

Collaborative efforts between agencies Aug. 10 and Aug. 24 led to the seizure of 6 kilograms of cocaine valued at $1.2 million, numerous vehicles and more than 70 charges handed down.

Residence searches were conducted at 167 Deanne Lane in Coats,; 5747 Piney Grove Road in Angier, 8970 Buffalo Road in Clayton, 5765 Benson-Hardee Road in Benson, and 4940 Monk Drive in Raleigh.  All charges will be prosecuted by the Harnett County District Attorney’s Office. Story and photos courtesy The Daily Record via 1270 WMPM

 
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