Onslow County drug trafficker sentenced to more than 10 years in prison

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Ernie James (Onslow County Sheriff’s Office photo)

NEW BERN, N.C.- Ernie James, 47, of Onslow County was sentenced Tuesday to 123 months in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine.

According to court documents and other evidence and information presented in court, between February 2018 and June 2019, James was involved in the distribution of more than a kilogram of methamphetamine into the Eastern District of North Carolina.  James had at least one person picking up methamphetamine for him to distribute.    James also paid people who were legitimately working for him with methamphetamine. James’ methamphetamine distribution involved a white supremacist organization.

On June 27, 2019, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) developed information that James and several other people were traveling to Kinston to pick up several ounces of methamphetamine.  They received information that the deal would occur at a residence on Dale Street in Goldsboro.  Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop on a truck being driven by James following the deal.  During the traffic stop, James instructed a passenger to dump several ounces of methamphetamine into a drink cup as law enforcement was approaching the car.  Law enforcement was able to recover the cup. 

In August 2021, James was in custody at the Pamlico County Jail awaiting his federal sentence.  James and at least one other person were involved in the distribution and use of controlled substances in the jail.  The controlled substances were being sent into the jail under the guise of legal mail. The ATF, Pamlico County Sheriff Deputies and the Craven County Sheriff’s Office working together uncovered this drug ring.

This is part of operation “Fighting Jelly Fish” which is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Onslow, Duplin, Craven, Pamlico and Lenoir County Sheriff’s Offices and the Kinston, Holly Ridge and Goldsboro Police Departments investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo prosecuted the case.

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