WILMINGTON, N.C. — A Kinston man was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after he pled guilty to drug charges and for his role in a high-speed chase during his attempted arrest.

Darrell Koonce, 36, of Kinston, was sentenced to 15.7 years (188 months) in prison for possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl. He pled guilty to the charge on February 22, 2023.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, on July 6, 2021, Koonce was stopped for erratic driving after he was observed leaving a known drug location in Kinston.  When the Kinston Police Detectives approached the vehicle, they observed an odor of marijuana. During a search of the car, detectives located 40 grams of fentanyl and cash.

On August 4, 2022, officers observed Koonce driving a sedan on Ferrell Road in Lenoir County.  The officers attempted to stop Koonce and serve a federal arrest warrant and Koonce initially stopped his car. However, Koonce then fled at a high rate of speed. Officers pursued him and Koonce’s car reached speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour.  Koonce ultimately collided with a car that was traveling in the other lane of traffic, and he was arrested following the collision.

According to law enforcement, Koonce was a member of the Crips Gang and has prior convictions for Discharging a weapon into an occupied property (2006), Common Law Robbery (2015), Assault Inflicting Serious Injury on a Detention Officer (2015), and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon (2020).

“As an agency, we’re extremely grateful that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had made it their focal point to assist communities such as Kinston,” said Kinston Police Chief Keith Goyette. “This sentence protects our community and places a career criminal where he belongs, in prison.”

This is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launders, 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 Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Kinston Police Department and the Jacksonville Police Department investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo prosecuted the case.