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SBI agents win national, regional awards for their work

Release date: 12/14/2012

Agents recognized for work fighting drugs, gangs, fugitives, pollution, and drug abuse

Washington, D.C.: Several agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation have been honored recently for their work to fight drug trafficking and gangs, track down fugitives, and stop water pollution and prescription drug abuse, including at a ceremony this week in Washington.
 
“Law enforcement officers across North Carolina go above and beyond the call of duty to make our communities safer,” said Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the N.C. Department of Justice, which includes the SBI. “I’m pleased to see these deserving SBI agents recognized for their work.”
 
“Our agents are dedicated to finding the truth and bringing criminals to justice, and these cases are excellent examples of the work that they do,” said SBI Director Greg McLeod. “We’ll continue our efforts to solve crime, root out violent criminals, and protect the people of North Carolina.”
 
Special Agent Michael Hall of the SBI’s Capital District Field Office in Raleigh was awarded the Outstanding Task Force Effort Award by the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy on Thursday for his work to fight drug trafficking in the Triangle area and eastern North Carolina. Hall works with other local, state and federal law officers as part of a task force that received the award in Washington during the National HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Conference. Hall, a graduate of Methodist College, has served with the SBI for nearly eight years and formerly served with the Fayetteville Police Department.
 
Another SBI agent was honored in Washington earlier this year. Special Agent Christopher W. Dawson received the William French Smith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cooperative Law Enforcement from the U.S. Attorney General in October. Dawson, of the SBI’s Northeastern Field District Office in Grenville, was honored along with four local North Carolina officers for their work arresting fugitives in eastern North Carolina. 
 
Dawson, a graduate of Lenoir Community College and Mount Olive College, has been an SBI agent for eight years and previously was a Kinston police officer. The award also cited Dawson and the others for their bravery on June 9, 2010, when a member of their team, Officer Warren "Sneak" Lewis of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, was shot by a wanted fugitive. Lewis, who later died from his wounds, was honored with the award posthumously. 
 
Six SBI agents and supervisors received regional awards last month at the 2012 Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) conference in Sunset Beach for their work on two complex drug trafficking cases.
 
Assistant Special Agent in Charge April Masha Seal and Special Agents Dawson, Joseph M. Lewis, and Albert Ray “Bubba” Summerlin, all of the SBI’s Northeastern District Field Office in Greenville, received the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District OCDETF case of the year award for their work on Operation No Quarter. The case involved federal, state and local law enforcement from North Carolina, New York, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Washington, Illinois and Mexico.
  
Work by SBI agents and others on Operation No Quarter resulted in the seizure of approximately 127 kilos of cocaine with a street value of $3.8 million dollars, 41 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $650,000, 160 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $170,000, more than 1 kilogram of heroin, 35 firearms and property valued at $2,165,000.  To date, more than 100 defendants have been convicted in federal and state courts, and several have been sentenced to 20 or more years in prison.
 
Special Agents Jamie S. Castle and C.F. “Chip” Hughes Jr. of the SBI’s Northwestern District Field Office in Hickory received the U.S. Attorney’s Western District OCDETF case of the year award for their work on Operation Tool Vault, which helped dismantle the Longview Crips drug trafficking organization.  Since 2002, the drug ring had smuggled large quantities of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico and Texas to the eastern United States, including into Hickory and even the Charlotte jail.
 
Undercover and investigative work by Castle and Hughes and other federal, state, and local officers resulted in the seizure of more than 100 firearms, 8 kilograms of cocaine, 1 kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, and $120,000 in U.S. currency and conviction of 22 defendants, many sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
 
The SBI’s Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit (DECU) was also honored with two national awards this year. DECU specializes in investigating environmental crimes and crimes involving the illegal diversion of prescription drugs.
 
In October, Special Agent D. Scott Faircloth of SBI DECU received a national award from the U.S. Department of Justice for the SBI’s work on a major case involving the deliberate discharge of 330,000 gallons of untreated hog waste into a North Carolina creek in December of 2007. Faircloth, a graduate of East Carolina University, has served with the SBI for 10 years.
 
The SBI worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. DOJ, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to investigate the case against Freedman Farms, Inc. of Columbus County and its owner, William Barry Freedman. As a result of the investigation, Freedman Farms, Inc. pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Clean Water Act, paid a fine of $1.5 million, and was placed on probation for five years. William Barry Freedman pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count and is scheduled to report to federal prison in January 2013, where he will serve six months to be followed by six months of house arrest. 
 
SBI DECU also received the National Injury Prevention Impact Award from the UNC Injury Prevention and Research Center for its work on the Operation Medicine Drop, a statewide event that helps cut down on prescription drug abuse and environmental damage by encouraging people to properly dispose of old drugs they no longer need. More than 25 million pills have been collected and safely destroyed in North Carolina over the last three years, thanks to Operation Medicine Drop. The SBI helps works closely with Safe Kids North Carolina, local law enforcement and others to hold these pill take back events each year.



Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413