09/27/06 — Drug suspects collared

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Drug suspects collared

By Lee Williams
Published in News on September 27, 2006 1:55 PM

Drug dealers in Wayne County got an unusual wake-up call about 5 a.m. Wednesday as more than 30 officers from the Wayne County Sheriff's Department and Goldsboro Police Department kicked off a drug roundup.

As officers and deputies took to the streets to charge what they say are some of the most well-known offenders, some officials hung back to process the suspects once they were apprehended.

Some offenders looked bewildered, some looked irritated and some wore a smile as they were led into the patrol room of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department in handcuffs.

And others, like offender, Billy Capps Jr. of Pikeville, denied any wrongdoing. Capps was accused of selling drugs at Charles B. Aycock High School in Pikeville. He also was accused of selling drugs to an undercover agent. But, when he was brought in for processing, Capps said authorities simply had the wrong guy.

"All I did was make a phone call," Capps said.

"That's conspiracy," a drug agent responded.

Another offender identified as James "Frog" Lassiter, 50, Memorial Church Road, Fremont, also was detained in the roundup after a brief foot chase with law enforcement.

Lassiter, who was classified as a mid-level dealer, was upbeat.

He greeted some of the officers as he was led into the patrol room wearing a grass-stained T-shirt. Lassiter was arrested for possession with intent to sell and distribute cocaine, selling and delivering cocaine and resisting arrest. Lassiter said he believed the arresting officers treated him fairly.

"I guess so," Lassiter said. "I am just confused right now. They said I delivered some drugs to somebody, but I don't know who."

Lassiter, who ran his own auto mechanic business in Fremont, admitted that he "might have sold some drugs." He added that he was looking at spending the next five years in prison for the charges.

"I know they are going to give me time," Lassiter said. "That's automatic. That's what this is all about."

Lassiter, who some knew as "Frog" received a $101,000 bond after his arrest during the drug roundup.

Wednesday's drug arrests were conducted by the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad, which consists of four deputies and four police officers. But when there's a drug raid, more officers and deputies are called up to help out, Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell said.

The drug raid was the culmination of a 10-month undercover investigation launched by the drug squad. The investigation resulted in warrants on 33 suspects with a total of about 135 felony charges, said Lt. Tom Effler of the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad.

"The suspects are from several areas of Wayne County including Fremont, Dudley, Mount Olive, Pikeville and Goldsboro," Effler said. "Illegal controlled substances that were either bought or seized in the investigation are cocaine, marijuana, prescription drugs and methamphetamine. The potential street value of all the drugs bought or seized would be in excess of $650,000."

Wednesday's drug raid had a personal meaning for Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders, who was anxious to nab a man accused of selling drugs behind the sheriff's home.

The 18-year-old alleged drug offender identified as Christopher Lawrence Fail, Old Smithfield Road, was among the first wave of offenders hauled into the sheriff's office patrol room for booking.

Fail, who had on a black Scarface T-shirt, wore a look of defiance as he was led into the room and placed in a wooden chair. Sheriff Winders asked Fail if he knew he was selling drugs behind his house, and Fail said "yes."

When asked if he ever worried about getting caught, Fail said "no."

Fail was charged with three counts of possession with intent to sell and distribute marijuana, two counts of selling and delivering marijuana and one count of conspiracy to sell marijuana.

Winders said he received a number of complaints from residents about Fail. Winders knew it would only be a matter of time before Fail was detained, but all he could say was "We're working on it," Winders said.

Winders said drugs destroy the fabric of the community.

"As a result of drug activity, you can attribute 80 to 90 percent of your crimes," Winders said.

The sheriff said drug round-ups are important because they help rid the community of drugs, curtail crime and gang activity.

Winders said the drug squad heavily targeted drug offenders in the Fremont area. He added many of the offenders arrested were from the Webtown Boys and the North End gangs.

"Hopefully, this will curtail some of that and encourage some of our young people from becoming involved," Winders added.

Bell, who previously served as an agent for the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad for more than 15 years, said the drug round-ups have been conducted by the police and sheriff's department for 30 to 35 years.

"That shows the good cooperation of both agencies," Bell said.

By 9:30 a.m., 12 of the 33 suspects were collared. Officers from the Mount Olive Police Department, Duplin County Sheriff's Office, Greene County Sheriff's Office, Wilson Police Department, the Kinston Police Department and the North Carolina Department of Revenue also assisted in the drug roundup.

The names of all arrested in the drug roundup will be reported in an upcoming article in the Goldsboro News-Argus.