05/18/10 — Marijuana dealer ring broken up; officers trying to shut down sales

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Marijuana dealer ring broken up; officers trying to shut down sales

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on May 18, 2010 1:46 PM

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Capt. Tom Effler of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office places the seized marijuana and money on the patrol room table at the Sheriff Department Annex.

A Goldsboro woman under investigation by authorities for about two years for alleged marijuana sales was arrested Friday, part of ongoing work that "spans up and down the East Coast of the United States," authorities said.

Stephanie Elizabeth Miller, 23, of Shelly Drive, and Severiano Thornton, 33, of Peachtree Drive, face drug charges for 10 pounds of marijuana reportedly seized after a raid of multiple homes.

Another man, Knightdale resident Larel Finn, age unknown, of Sandy Trail Drive, was charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun, classified as a "weapon of mass destruction," in connection with the case.

Sgt. Mike Cox of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said two women would also be charged. Their identities have not been released.

Sgt. Matt Miller said Miss Miller had a connection to Jamaican-born marijuana dealers based out of Wayne County.

"She supplies quite a few people here in Goldsboro," Miller said. Cox alleged that Thornton was among the people Miss Miller supplied with marijuana for sale.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office put the items seized on display at the Sheriff's Office annex on Monday afternoon.

Among the items seized were economy-sized rolls of plastic wrap, scales and bundles of cash that added up to more than $15,000, authorities said. The total amount of alleged drug money was about $35,000, and Cox said the street value of the marijuana could be as much as $22,400.

At least two Wayne County homes were searched by police, including Thornton's Peachtree Drive residence and a Dudley house in the 100 block of South Running Deer Circle.

Cox, the lead investigator in the case, said "knock and talks" also were conducted at two other residences in the county.

Other agencies contributed to the investigation, including the Wake County Sheriff's Office, the Raleigh office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Winston-Salem police and the N.C. Department of Revenue.

Noting that he believed the marijuana dealers "probably had already re-organized," Sgt. Cox was asked if the continuing struggle against dealers was a source of frustration.

"It just drives me to work harder," Cox said.