The Greenville Regional Drug Task Force was unveiled Wednesday. However, we learned they've already been hard at work.
The force is compiled of officials from Greenville, Winterville, Farmville , and ECU Police. They're teamed up with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, SBI and DEA. Their objective is direct; combat narcotics traffickers in Pitt County and Eastern North Carolina.
Officials say drug trafficking is a growing problem in our area. "Over the past ten years, there has been an increase in volume, and the amount of drugs seized," said Agent Bubba Summerlin, of the SBI.
The task force is looking to change that. They've started with some significant busts.
Two Mexican nationals, Gambino Benitez Correa and Julio Cesar Avalos Rodriguez, were arrested and charged with numerous conspiracy and cocaine trafficking charges. Police say that stemmed from a traffic stop which resulted in multiple kilograms of cocaine being seized. They say the pair was hiding the cocaine in a container disguised as an air compressor. Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden says one of the men is a member of the gang MS-13.
"That's a gang that's very popular in many east coast cities. But I've not seen that here yet, until this," said Aden.
Correa and Rodriguez were also tied to an apartment where a man was killed in December. Police say they were delivering drugs to the residence on Mulberry Lane in Greenville. That is the location where 34-year-old Ronnie Chapman was murdered.
Pitt County Sheriff's deputies are doing their part as well. On March 13th, they concluded a month long heroin investigation with the execution of a search warrant at 3643 South George Street in Farmville. They say they seized 330 dosage units of heroin, 20 of which were located in a mail parcel which had been mailed from the Bronx, NY.
Two arrests were made as a result. James Melvin Blount and Carlton Blount were charged with heroin trafficking, among other crimes.
The task force also intercepted a package containing 4.5 pounds of marijuana. That package had been shipped via FedEx.
"This was really, in my 28 year career, the first time that I've seen a local task force succeed to this level. It was exceeded every one of my expectations," said Aden.
The drugs already seized have a street value of over $250,000. They have also taken in cash and firearms.
Correa is in the Pitt County Detention Center under $2.5 million secured bond. Rodriguez is also in there, under a $1 million secured bond.
Both James and Carlton Blount are also in the Pitt County Detention Center, under a $250,000 secured bond.