Methamphetamine has become even more dominant among illegal drugs in Wilkes County, said Wilkes Sheriff Chris Shew when he announced the arrest of 20 people on felony drug charges on April 15.
The arrests resulted from investigations underway within the last 2 ½ months and all but one primarily involved meth.
Drug cartels south of the U.S.-Mexican border are the primary sources of meth sold here and Shew said it’s become easier to bring it across the border into the U.S. under Biden administration policies. He said the result is more meth here.
Shew said the cartels “are getting their operatives here (in the U.S.) to do business and have more people selling” meth. Shew said fentanyl is also becoming more common in Wilkes, as well as deadlier.
According to news reports, federal authorities seized record amounts of meth and fentanyl on the U.S.-Mexican border in 2020. Authorities said drug cartels shifted more to producing these illegal substances due to their increased profitability.
Capt. Craig Dancy, who heads the sheriff’s office’s narcotics division, said 652 grams of meth with a street value of about $65,000 were seized in cases culminating in the latest 20 arrests.
Dancy said that within the last year, the street value of meth in Wilkes fell from about $1,100 to about $600 per ounce due to the increased supply.
He said 11 grams of fentanyl worth about $1,500 and 122 pills worth about $5,000 were also seized, as well as 35 grams of marijuana and three grams of cocaine.
Among those arrested, eight face trafficking charges as a result of larger amounts of meth in their cases. Each trafficking charge is for a different undercover buy.
The trafficking cases include:
• Bobby Lee Bowers, 40, North Bridge Street, Elkin, possession with intent to sell and deliver (PWISD) meth and pills, sale of meth and three counts of trafficking in meth. Dancy said 168 grams of meth were seized in the Bowers case;
• Antoine Montea Springs, 34, Winston-Salem, PWISD meth and three counts of trafficking in meth. Dancy said Springs was supplying people in eastern Wilkes with meth and was arrested by the Yadkin Sheriff’s Office on the Wilkes charges;
• Trisha Marie Nelson, 44, Country Square Drive, Moravian Falls, trafficking in meth, PWISD fentanyl, maintaining a vehicle for controlled substances and two counts of PWISD meth. Dancy said Nelson already faced similar charges filed earlier by the Wilkes and Iredell sheriff’s offices;
• Richard Nathan Ward, 42, Shumate Drive, North Wilkesboro, PWISD meth and two counts of trafficking in meth. Fifty-one grams of meth were seized in Ward’s case. Dancy said Ward, now in prison, has drug connections in Mexico;
• Jimmy Carl Anderson Jr., 42, Shepherds Crossroads, Roaring River, PWISD meth, maintaining a vehicle for controlled substances and two counts of trafficking in meth;
• John Walter Demeny, 24, Country Club Road, Moravian Falls, trafficking in meth, PWISD meth and fentanyl, maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon;
• Scottie Lewis Pawelski, 25, Wilkesboro, trafficking in meth and PWISD meth and marijuana. Dancy said Demeny was supplying Pawelski with meth and Pawelski was selling it from where he lived at Holbrook Motel. Thirty grams of meth were seized from Pawelski;
• Michael Gene Brown, 43, Lincoln Mill, Millers Creek, PWISD meth and pills and two counts of trafficking in meth. Dancy said someone in Rowan County was supplying Brown with meth.
Other meth cases
Dancy said Melissa Lynn Brown, 51, Winkler Mill Road, Wilkesboro, is charged with maintaining a dwelling for meth in connection with the Michael Brown case.
He said Damion Dontrell Horton, 31, Carlton Road, Boomer, is charged with PWISD meth in the case in which Trisha Nelson is charged.
In other meth cases,
• Ashley Brooke Jarvis, 32, N.C. 18 South, Moravian Falls, PWISD meth;
• Kristen McNeil Williams, 35, Pineridge Circle, North Wilkesboro, maintaining a vehicle for controlled substances, three counts of PWISD schedule III pills and four counts of PWISD meth and pills;
• Nichole Ashley Parke, 21, N.C. 268, Lenoir, and Brandon Shane Kilby, 38, Traphill Road, Traphill, were arrested at the same time and charged with one count each of PWISD meth;
• Also charged in the same case were Misty Lynn Minton, 35, Moravian Creek Drive, Moravian Falls, PWISD, and Jonathan Russ Minton, 41, Homestead Drive, Hays, maintaining a vehicle for meth;
• Jason Darren Love, 42, River Mist Drive, Ronda, PWISD meth, possession of oxycodone and destruction of evidence. Dancy said Love is charged with consuming illegal drugs he was charged with having;
• George Tucker Kelly, 65, F Street, North Wilkesboro, possession of meth and fentanyl and possession of drug paraphernalia. Dancy said Tucker was selling powder fentanyl;
Eric Catalan-Garcia, 41, Pine Avenue, North Wilkesboro, possession of fentanyl. Dancy said Catalan-Garcia was selling fentanyl made to look like oxycontin pills.
In the one case not involving meth, Kevin Moreno, 22. Of N.C. 268 East, North Wilkesboro, was charged with two counts each PWISD cocaine and sale or cocaine.
Fentanyl often made to look like prescription pain pills but increasingly is being sold in its original powder form.
He said people arrested in the latest Wilkes drug cases had been supplied with meth and/or fentanyl by as many as a dozen different drug dealers. Dancy said this reflected the fragmented nature of the drug trade now.
Although originally from Mexico or other countries south of the U.S. border, Dancy said much of the meth and fentanyl in Wilkes comes from Charlotte or Atlanta.
Meth is a stimulant and fentanyl is a synthetic opioid often added to heroin and other drugs. Both are highly addictive and primary causes of overdose drug deaths.
Assisting the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office in some of the cases were the Yadkin Sheriff’s Office, Elkin Police Department and Det. Tim Sims of the Alexander Sheriff’s Office and a drug dog assigned to him.