The Multi-Agency Operation Targeted Drug Trafficking and Illegal Firearms in Buncombe, Jackson, and Haywood Counties.
Acting U.S. Attorney William T. Stetzer announced today that a multi-agency investigation into methamphetamine trafficking and illegal firearm possession in Western North Carolina has led to federal drug and gun charges filed against 25 individuals.
On Sunday, August 15, 2021, teams of federal, state and local law enforcement arrested 19 of those charged. Two additional defendants currently in state custody will be transferred to federal custody to face their charges. Four defendants have not been arrested yet.
In making today’s announcement, Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer commended the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Asheville, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, the Waynesville Police Department, the Maggie Valley Police Department, and the Canton Police Department for their investigative efforts which led to the federal charges and arrests. Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Division of Community Corrections, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, and the Asheville Police Department for their invaluable assistance in effectuating the arrests.
The criminal indictments, which were returned by a grand jury on August 3, 2021, and were unsealed today in federal court, are the result of a coordinated yearlong joint law enforcement investigation into drug trafficking activity and illegal firearm possession in and around Buncombe, Jackson, and Haywood Counties. Over the course of the investigation, which began in April 2020 and wrapped up in May 2021, law enforcement seized methamphetamine, more than a dozen illegally possessed firearms, various types of ammunition, and more than $12,000 in drug proceeds.
The first criminal indictment charges 23 defendants with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Of those charged, some face additional drug and/or firearms offenses (see chart below for list of federal charges for each defendant and maximum statutory penalties). The 23 individuals named in the indictment are:
· Rebecca Lynn Barker, 49, of Clyde, N.C. (arrested)
· Robert Allan Burnette, 59, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Angela Vance Carver, 47, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Derek Michael Cluff, 23, of Waynesville, N.C. (arrested)
· Marcus Brandon Cobaugh, 29, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Lindsay Nicole Cobb, 27, of Burke County, N.C. (not arrested yet)
· David Hunter Creson, 26, of Waynesville, N.C. (arrested)
· William Joseph Craig, 43, of Candler, N.C. (arrested)
· Arthur Shane Douville, 31, of Waynesville, N.C. (arrested)
· Jaime Gamez, 38, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Justin Caroll Gibson, 28, of McDowell County, N.C. (arrested)
· Jane Ivison Gill, 43, of Blythewood, S.C. (arrested)
· Sarah Jane Gill, 22, of Blythewood, S.C. (arrested)
· Roberto Illerma Ibarra, 39, of Norcross, Georgia (not arrested yet)
· Elizabeth Gabrielle Mann, 28, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Jose Andres Martinez, 25, of Waynesville, N.C. (in state custody)
· Keith Allen McMahan, 37, of Waynesville, N.C. (not arrested yet)
· Nicholas Ray Miller, 33, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Ryan Warren Muster, 27, of Sylva, N.C. (in state custody)
· Kelly Woodrow Ross, 60, of Waynesville, N.C. (arrested)
· Richard Anthony Swanger, 48, of Clyde, N.C. (arrested)
· Christy Helen Trull, 33, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
· Michael Kevin Vanlandingham, 61, of Canton, N.C. (arrested)
A second criminal indictment resulting from the investigation charges Joseph Daniel Perry, 30, of Candler, N.C. with two counts of distribution of methamphetamine. Perry has not been arrested yet. Daniel Guadalupe Martinez, 23, of Waynesville, N.C. is also charged separately with possession of an unregistered firearm and two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon via a third indictment. Martinez was arrested on Sunday.
The defendants apprehended during the round up remain in federal custody, following their initial court appearance today in Asheville before U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Carleton Metcalf.
The charges contained in the indictments are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is leading the prosecution.