Western North Carolina -- Press Release Friday April 12, 2019 -ASHEVILLE, N.C. – United States Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that law enforcement have dismantled a drug ring operating in Asheville, charging eight of its members with drug conspiracy and drug and firearm-related offenses. The 35-count criminal indictment was returned by the federal grand jury on April 2, 2019, and was unsealed today.

Western District of North Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 12, 2019
Law Enforcement Dismantle Drug Ring Operating In Asheville

The two-year joint federal, state and local investigation aimed at reducing drug distribution and drug related criminal activity and increasing community safety in Buncombe County. The indictment alleges that the drug ring operated in Asheville and trafficked heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs and other narcotics. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized drugs, 12 firearms and ammunition, and $153,674 in cash.

“The federal charges against the eight defendants are the result of a joint law enforcement investigation targeting an area of Asheville that has been plagued by drug trafficking and drug-related criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “The danger and violence that drugs and guns create in our local communities erode our citizens’ ability to live peaceful lives. I want to thank our law enforcement partners for working together to identify individuals who threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhood streets.”

“Today, we have removed dangerous criminals from the Buncombe County community. These poly-drug traffickers will no longer be able to deliver deadly doses of poison to this community. This investigation was a success because of the great working relationship that DEA has with its federal, state, local counterparts and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, which oversees North Carolina.

"The Asheville Police Department is committed to bettering the lives of the residents of Asheville,” said Interim Chief Wade Wood, of the Asheville Police Department. “This joint operation addressed an area of our city that has seen an increase in violence and drug-related activity over the course of the past year. Federal and local partnerships are critical in addressing such criminal networks, and I would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office and the DEA for their continued support and efforts.”

The eight defendants named in the indictment are each charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone, Adderrall, and Xanax, and related possession and distribution charges. They are:

Prophet Karim Hadialim Allah, 47, of Leicester, North Carolina.
Rodney Dejuan Allison, 43, of Asheville.
William Luther Downs, Jr., 26, of Asheville.
Harry James Odum, 57, of Asheville.
Derrick Maurice Perry, 25, of Asheville.
Teresa Day Shuping, 47, of Hickory, North Carolina.
Elliot Norris Smith, 25, of Atlanta, Georgia.
Jeffrey Allen Wright, 41, of Leicester.

In addition to the drug conspiracy charges, Allison, Downs, Perry, Smith and Wright are also charged with firearms related offenses. (See chart below for federal charges and penalties for each defendant).

Five defendants are in custody. Federal arrest warrants have been issued against Perry, Smith and Shuping.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the Asheville Police Department, the Buncombe County Anti-Crime Task Force, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, the Black Mountain Police Department, and the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office for leading the investigation. U.S. Attorney Murray also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kent, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, is leading the prosecution.

This case has been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.

Topic(s):
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s):
USAO - North Carolina, Western

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