Drug trafficker taken into federal custody

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 10, 2003

WINDSOR – An individual described as &uot;a major drug trafficker&uot; in Roanoke-Chowan area was taken into federal custody Tuesday, thanks to the work of local law enforcement agencies.

Naquain &uot;Gilly&uot; Smallwood, 21, of Lewiston has been charged with possession with intent to sell and distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base (crack), with using, carrying or possessing a firearm during or in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack).

According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration website, Smallwood could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on all counts.

Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins said the federal charges stem from an arrest of Smallwood in March 2001. Smallwood, allegedly found with more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, was never tried on state charges, Atkins said, because an ongoing drug investigation sought to bring federal charges on Smallwood.

&uot;He’s a kilo level dealer,&uot; Atkins said. &uot;He’s put kilos of cocaine on the street over a period of time. He is a high level trafficker.&uot;

Atkins said the investigation that put Smallwood in federal custody is an ongoing collaborative effort between the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office, the Roanoke-Chowan Drug Task Force, the DEA, and the US Attorney.

Frank Timberlake, commander of the Drug Task Force, said the initial arrest was made thanks to &uot;numerous calls&uot; from citizens complaining about drug activity in the Lewiston area.

&uot;We put him (Smallwood) on the suspect list because of the numerous calls we received,&uot; Timberlake said, &uot;and were able to develop information for a search warrant.&uot;

Former DTF Assistant Commander Raymond Eure, now with the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, was the case officer that made the initial arrest.

Following that arrest in March 2001, Timberlake said Smallwood made bond and had not been processed on state charges.

District Attorney Valerie Asbell said Tuesday, &uot;Because of an extensive and thorough investigation of the defendant, Naquain Smallwood, by the Roanoke-Chowan Drug Task Force and the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office, one of the major players in the county drug problem has been charged federally by the US Attorney’s Office.

&uot;This investigation, which took over a year and a half to complete,&uot; said Asbell, &uot;exemplifies the hard work and dedication and good working relationship between our local law enforcement departments and federal law enforcement officials.

&uot;Commander Timberlake and Sheriff Atkins should be commended for their proactive approach to using all our resources, both state and federal, to make our community a safer, drug free environment for our citizens,&uot; she concluded.

During the investigation of Smallwood on federal trafficking charges, Timberlake said citizens continued to complain about drug activity and local law enforcement agencies collaborated to serve two other search warrants following the March 2001 arrest.

&uot;Both searches netted cocaine and cash,&uot; said Timberlake, adding that one vehicle and $1100 in cash have been seized. Other seizures are possible.

&uot;It takes a long time and a lot of work to bring a federal case of this magnitude to trial,&uot; Timberlake said. &uot;I also want to commend the dedication of the Sheriff’s Office and the Task Force agents who have worked on this case.&uot;

Both Timberlake and Atkins also praised the citizens who focused their combined might onto Smallwood by speaking up for a better neighborhood.

&uot;Working together,&uot; Timberlake said, &uot;law enforcement and citizens can put these drug dealers in jail for a long, long time.&uot;

Atkins said that while this aspect of the federal investigation – which is being handled by local law enforcement agencies in cooperation with federal agencies, has now ended, the investigation is far from over.

&uot;He (Smallwood) is a substantial dealer in this area,&uot; Atkins said, &uot;but he is a mid-level dealer. We will continue to strive for these mid-level dealers and all those associated with them.&uot;