Nine charged in drug conspiracy operation

Nine charged in drug conspiracy operation
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Nine people were charged following a 10-month long drug investigation in Mecklenburg County. U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray stated that a federal criminal indictment was filed on Thursday and unsealed Tuesday night.

According to the Department of Justice, Emilio Mejia, 28, Rodolfo Medina, 47, Jose Javier Reyes, 19, Mauco Contreras, 21, Kevin Eliezer Velasquez Melendez, 18, Alejandro Jose Lopez Ceballos, 20, Martha Olivia Placencia Beltran, 48, and Edgar Jesus Magana are accused of trafficking methamphetamine and heroin in Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas.

The defendants were named in a 33-count indictment and all face drug conspiracy charges. Officials say some suspects also face drug trafficking and money laundering charges. The indictment included allegations from 2015 to the present.

Officials say a separate criminal indictment was filed charging Brandy Nicole Short, 34, with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

"The arrests of these individuals are a testament to the high level of cooperation between our federal and local law enforcement counterparts as we work together to achieve our common goal: to disrupt drug networks from operating in this district and to stem the flow of drugs they pour into our communities," said U.S. Attorney Murray.

John Strong, who is a special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina said "drug dealers victimize our communities, strain law enforcement resources, and diminish quality of life for everyone. The FBI will continue to join forces with our state and local law enforcement partners to track down these offenders to end the deadly cycle of drug abuse in our communities."

Matthew D. Line who is an acting special agent in charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigations Unit said they followed the money, which enabled them to "financially disrupt and dismantle" the alleged drug traffickers.

Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey released this statement:

"We are grateful for the hard work of all the federal agents, local officers and federal prosecutors who participated in this long term drug investigation. Unfortunately, heroin and methamphetamine has impacted virtually every community in the country, including Union County, and we must continue to use all available resources to protect our citizens and bring dealers to justice. Too many families have lost loved ones as a result of this epidemic, so every drug dealer taken off the street is potentially saving someone's life."

The suspects could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty, officials say.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, Gastonia police, Monroe police, Union County deputies assisted the FBI and the ATF in the investigation.

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