08/16/05 — Lenoir man gets prison time for meth trafficking

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Lenoir man gets prison time for meth trafficking

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 16, 2005 1:48 PM

From staff reports

A 33-year-old Lenoir County man was sentenced Monday in Wayne County Superior Court to more than 18 to 23 years in prison under the state's toughened laws dealing with methamphetamine.

Gustavo Lopez Juarez, of Church Road, LaGrange, pleaded guilty to trafficking in methamphetamine by possession. He was sentenced by Judge Jay D. Hockenbury Jr. of Wilmington to 225 to 279 months.

More than 10 other felony drug charges were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea.

Under the state's current sentencing guidelines, Juarez must serve the minimum amount before he will be eligible for release.

When Juarez was arrested March 4, 2004, after an investigation by the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad, about a pound of the drug, worth about $95,000, was seized in a vehicle. Juarez had been held on a $400,000 secured bond.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office's Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team, detectives and its helicopter, the Raven, and the State Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.

Juarez was arrested by the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad after an undercover operation. Sgt. Max Staps said officers made several undercover buys from him. Juarez was arrested in a parking lot on U.S. 70 East near the Wayne-Lenoir County line.

Staps said the methamphetamine was the largest amount seized in the county. He said the sentence also was the longest.

"Meth is probably here to stay," he admitted, "and we probably won't see an end to it soon."

Staps said Juarez was smuggling the drug in a 1989 Cadillac from Atlanta.

"Our investigation revealed that it was being transported to Wayne County," Staps said. "He told our informant that it was on the way. All we did was wait for him."