FAISON — In just a matter of days, the actions of local law enforcement have curbed two heroin transports through Sampson County, a persistent problem through main corridors in Sampson, notably Interstate 40.
Deputies with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Team conducted a traffic stop on a 2016 Toyota Sienna around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on I-40, near mile marker 359 in the Faison area. The vehicle, driven by Terek Maris Harper, 32, of 4803 Gardenview Terrace, East Windsor, N.J., was pulled over for a registration violation.
During the stop, deputies smelled marijuana inside the passenger area of the vehicle. A probable cause search of the vehicle was conducted and 368 grams (13 ounces) of heroin was found hidden inside the vehicle, according to reports. Those drugs were seized along with a couple grams of marijuana.
Harper was taken into custody and charged with three counts of trafficking in opium or heroin, maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance and possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver heroin. He was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under $71,000 secured bond and given a court date of July 29.
He was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance in jail.
“While booking him into the jail,” Smith noted, “officers did find additional small amounts of heroin hidden on his person.”
His arrest came on the heels of a traffic stop on I-40 Friday that netted 11 bindles — small envelope used for carrying powdered drugs — of heroin and the arrest of a 26-year-old Raleigh man on several offenses, including possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver heroin. N.C. Highway Patrol pulled the man’s vehicle and subsequently charged him with driving while impaired and reckless driving. When the heroin was found, agents with the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division were contacted.
The two heroin arrests are the latest to be made on the interstate, which extends through the northeastern tip of Sampson.
In May, a Greensboro man was found with 40 grams of heroin as he traveled I-40. In October 2015, an I-40 traffic stop resulted in the discovery of 7,000 bindles of heroin and the arrests of two young men on a slew of trafficking charges.
A 22-year-old from Hillside, N.J., and a 17-year-old from Wilmington, N.C., were arrested on the interstate at mile marker 358, not far from Tuesday’s arrest. It was during that search that officers found the heroin bindles, which authorities said had a street value of $70,000.
Just a week after those arrests, the Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Team conducted “Operation Interception,” a multi-agency campaign targeting criminal activity through proactive traffic enforcement on I-40, U.S. 13 and Connector Road (N.C. 117/N.C. 403). The result was 117 charges ranging from serious felony drug offenses to minor traffic infractions, and cash seizures totaling $14,500.
The campaign was launched in an effort to continue a proactive enforcement initiative against criminal activity. The corridors targeted as part of the initiative are “known thoroughfares in Sampson County for criminals to travel,” sheriff’s officials said. Felony drug offenses included possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
In Tuesday’s arrest, Smith said Harper was traveling east on I-40, from New Jersey to Wilmington, a route with which Sampson County Sheriff’s authorities and other local agencies are all too familiar.
“I-40 serves as a major transport route for heroin from New Jersey and other areas to Wilmington,” Smith remarked. “Law enforcement has noticed a rise in heroin use over the past years and we are doing everything in our powers to combat the problem. It’s truly a joint effort from all agencies working together to stop the flow of narcotics.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.