LUMBERTON — A single member of the 12 members of an alleged Maxton-based drug ring remained at large Friday.
Andres Garza is the only person indicted in the conspiracy federal authorities say was headed by Tuscarora Beaver Clan Chief Mitchell Locklear to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana in Robeson County.
This week a 30-count indictment was released naming five additional suspects, Archie Lynn Strickland, Austin Aaron Godwin, Eliseo Enriquez, Jr., Andrea True Brayboy and Garza. Strickland, Godwin, Enriquez Jr. and Brayboy have been arrested and have appeared in federal court, where a detention hearing has been set for Wednesday. The four will be held in custody until that hearing.
Brayboy has retained Lumberton attorney Carlton M. Mansfield to represent her. Enriquez, Strickland and Godwin have applied for federal public defenders.
According to Agent Shelley Lynch, public information officer with the FBI in Charlotte, authorities rre still searching for Garza.
Locklear, also known as Black Mitchell, and six other men were arrested on March 16 in a joint local and federal law enforcement operation where cash and firearms were seized.
Locklear, 54; his son, Christopher Mitchell Locklear, 34; Timmy Lloyd Hunt, 42; Torrey Locklear, 37; Kevin Dwayne Revels, 35; Brandon Darris Locklear, all of Maxton; and 30-year-old Kevin Jeffery Clark Jr., also known as White Boy Kel, of Rowland, were arrested.
The indictment lays out 64 items the Department of Justice expects to seize if convictions are won. The items include $168,597 in cash, 54 firearms found during the initial raid, and four vehicles allegedly used for drug-dealing activities. The vehicles include a $30,000 2016 Harley Davidson motorcycle and a $50,000 2015 Lexus sedan. The firearms include more than two dozen shotguns, a variety of handguns, AR-15s, AK-47s and larger caliber hunting rifles.
The most recent court documents again describe Mitchell Locklear as the leader of the operation and specifically charge him with dealing more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana.
The document names all 12 members under the conspiracy charge but the majority of distribution of marijuana and cocaine charges name Revels or Torrey Locklear. Those charges stem from dozens of controlled narcotics purchases made by cooperating informants who were working with the FBI, according to court documents. The indictment charges 24 of those buys took place between May 5, 2016 and Feb. 17, 2017.
Criminal conspiracy to distribute narcotics in the amounts alleged carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $10 million.
The indictment was approved by a grand jury on April 11 but not released to the public until this week.
The FBI used informants and tapped cellphones during the investigation. Two informants claimed they were motivated by “patriotism,” deep roots in their community and a desire to remove “a known drug trafficker” from their neighborhood aided the investigation, one FBI agent said. At least two other informants were only used for part of the investigation. Two individuals identified as Cooperating Witness 1 and 2 were dismissed as informants after they were charged with other criminal activity, according to affidavits.
Federal agents observed the trafficking organization’s operations from several points near the Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina facility near Maxton, according to an affidavit. Mitchell and Christopher Locklear were intercepted discussing storing narcotics in that facility and dealing drugs out of the homes on Tuscarora Nation Road.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly