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Major dealer receives 260-month prison term

WILMINGTON – For the next 260 months, Christopher Swain will no longer be in a position to distribute illegal drugs.

U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox Sr. made that determination here yesterday (Friday) when he sentenced the 44-year-old Windsor man to an active prison term of 21 years and eight months.

In a related legal proceeding, Antonio Augustus Boone, 32, also of Windsor, was sentenced by Judge Fox to 242 months behind bars. According to Detective Sgt. Frank Timberlake of the Bertie Sheriff’s Narcotics Division, Boone was a drug distributor for Swain.

Both men were arrested in Windsor on Oct. 7, 2005 for felony drug charges.

In January of this year, Swain was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on seven felony counts. On April 24, he pled guilty to two counts – (1) conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (crack), and (2) carrying a firearm (a .22 caliber rifle and a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol) during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and did possess said firearms in furtherance of such drug trafficking crime.

He received 200 months in prison for count 1 with the remaining 60 months attributed to count 2.

At the time of his guilty plea in April, Judge Fox ordered Swain to turn over all drug assets.

“This court proceeding on Friday sent a very powerful message n if you decide to become involved in illegal drugs, whether as a user, a dealer or both, it will ruin your life,” Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins said. “It also sent a message that we within Bertie County law enforcement have a zero tolerance when it comes to those who push this poison on our citizens. We have in the past and will continue in the future to act upon information we receive from our citizens concerning illegal drug trafficking and seek out and arrest those involved in these crimes.”

In October of last year following six months of investigation by several local, state and federal agencies, Swain was found in possession of a large quantity of cocaine and approximately $15,000 in cash. Further investigation by the Bertie Sheriff’s Narcotics Division linked Swain to a complex cocaine organization. This organization was said to be responsible for delivering kilo amounts of cocaine throughout Bertie and Martin counties.

Boone’s federal indictments included conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (crack) and a quantity of cocaine and three counts of aiding and abetting in the distribution of cocaine base.

At the end of Friday’s sentencing, Swain and Boone were placed into the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Timberlake said both men will serve their time, without the possibility of parole, at a federal prison. Both men will serve five years of supervised probation at the conclusion of their active terms, as ordered by Judge Fox.

Neither faces any fines as part of the judge’s ruling.

Detective Sgt. Timberlake and Detective Kenny Gilliam of the Bertie Narcotics Division handled the local investigation. Assisting were the FBI, SBI, Windsor Police Department, Aulander Police Department, Williamston Police Department, Washington Police Department, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, the NC National Guard’s Counter Drug Task Force and Bertie County Probation and Parole.

Also aiding in the original arrest were two specially trained dogs n “Dakota” (handled by Sgt. Charlie Harmon of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office) and “Buddy” (handled by Bertie Probation Officer Frank Massey). The dogs sniffed out the drugs and cash.