A convicted methamphetamine dealer has been sentenced to 8-1/2 years in federal prison. Eric Hernandez, 24, of Sampson County was sentenced in federal court in Raleigh on Wednesday.
United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced Hernandez to 102 months imprisonment, followed by 4 years of supervised release.
On November 19, 2018, Hernandez pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and two counts of possession with intent to distribute a quantity of methamphetamine.
On January 7, 2015, Sampson County sheriff deputies responded to a drive-by shooting at a residence in Garland. Officers searched a residence associated with the victim and found Hernandez present inside the house. Law enforcement found a jar containing an ounce of methamphetamine in an air vent and a handgun near the back door. His fingerprints were on the jar.
On February 15, 2018, a Sampson County deputy conducted a traffic stop on a car being driven by Hernandez. The deputy searched the car after he smelled an odor of marijuana. A search of the trunk uncovered more than an ounce of methamphetamine. A search was then conducted at his residence in Sampson County where an ounce of methamphetamine was found in a shed and more than $3,500 was located in his bedroom.
Hernandez was on supervised probation by the state for discharging a weapon into an occupied property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon at the time of this arrest.
This case is part of an extensive investigation by a DEA led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation named “Fall of the House of Usher”. The investigation is focused on the importation and distribution of methamphetamine from outside North Carolina to New Hanover, Duplin, and Sampson Counties.
This case is also part of the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the State Bureau of Investigations and the Duplin, New Hanover and Sampson County Sheriff’s Offices. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Severo prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.