Two Johnston County men pled guilty in federal court Wednesday to drug charges. As part of the plea agreement with Thurman Stancil, 69, of Middlesex, Stancil agreed to forfeit his property at 357 Barnes Lake Road, off Highway 39 North, as part of plea to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana. The location, known as the “Blazing Saddles” had been under investigation for over 15 years for illegal activity, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Thursday.
Bizzell described the location as something similar to “…an outdoor flea market for drugs” which had been very difficult for undercover agents to infiltrate.
“The Blazing Saddles is out of business! It’s a good day for Johnston County and it’s a good day for the citizens of this community to rid the community of a drug haven for addicts, users and dealers,” Sheriff Bizzell said, adding the property had been a location for numerous drug violations, assaults, shootings, and cock fighting.
A second person, Harold Devon Scarboro, 25, also of Middlesex addresses, also plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana.
Sheriff Bizzell described the operation as a criminal enterprise.
Narcotics Captain A.C. Fish said many others involved in the enterprise are facing charges on the state level. Sheriff Bizzell added that there are still outstanding warrants for additional persons associated with the organization he described as a “close knit drug operation composed of family and friends.”
The sheriff said his officers received information last week another individual was considering starting an illegal nightclub to take over where Stancil left off. Sheriff Bizzell said he met in person with the individual on Wednesday to let them know illegal narcotics, beer, wine and drugs would not be tolerated. “He is already on our radar,” Bizzell said Thursday, “He needs to find another use for his building.”
Captain Fish said during the multi-year investigation agents were able to build up an extensive database of the people involved and how they did business. That information will continue to aid law enforcement officers in their efforts against drug dealers.
The property will be seized by the US Marshal’s Service and likely be put up for public auction in the future.
Both Stancil and Scarboro are still awaiting sentencing. They could receive a maximum of 20 years each in federal prison.
The investigation was conducted by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence Cameron represented the government.