RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — A multi-organization investigation into drug distribution led to the arrest of five people, three of them from Duplin County.

U.S. Attorney Michael Easley announced in a press release that federal and local law enforcement were part of an ongoing investigation in Sampson and Duplin counties. Last week, a joint operation took place with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI), the Sampson, Duplin and New Hanover County Sheriffs’ Offices, and the Jacksonville, Goldsboro, and Wilmington Police Departments.

Search warrants and arrest warrants were carried out in Duplin and Sampson counties. The following items were seized:

  • Approximately eight pounds of suspected cocaine;
  • Over four ounces of suspected fentanyl;
  • Over an ounce of suspected crack cocaine;
  • Drug packing materials;
  • Drug distribution materials;
  • Approximately $10,000 cash; and
  • Multiple firearms and ammunition.

According to court documents, on the same day the search warrants were executed, the following individuals were arrested on federal charges:

  • Christopher Hill, 42, of Sampson County, distribution of methamphetamine;
  • Cheri Boyette, 45, of Duplin County, distribution of methamphetamine;
  • Peyton McBride, 42, of Sampson County distribution of cocaine;
  • Rashawn Ray McDuffie, 43, of Duplin County, conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine;
  • Dennis Ray Taylor, 57, of Duplin County, distribution of methamphetamine.

“Our office is working closely with our state and local partners to get illegal drugs and guns off the streets and put those fueling the drug epidemic behind bars,” said Easley. “We are using every tool available to make our communities safer.”

“I am thankful for the cooperation of our federal and state partners in combating the drug epidemic. While these seizures don’t solve the problem, they send the message that this activity is not welcomed or tolerated in our community,” said Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton.

“Drug trafficking too often fuels the violent crime law enforcement is working hard to address,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Bennie Mims. “Disrupting these networks has a major impact on fighting violent gun crime.” 

“Dangerous drugs have taken a terrible toll on our communities,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Division. “Drug traffickers should know they will face the consequences of their actions.”