The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 9, 2013

Tarboro native takes part in large Coast Guard cocaine seizure

The Daily Southerner
MIRANDA BAINES

TARBORO — Petty Officer 1st Class John Fleming, a Tarboro native, was involved in a successful Coast Guard operation in the Caribbean on Dec. 30 which resulted in the seizure of more than 2,600 pounds of cocaine and the detaining of two Dominican smugglers.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Fleming’s mother, Lynne Fleming, collector of revenue for the Town of Tarboro. “He’s just totally dedicated to his family and his country.”

Fleming was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus, a 110-foot island class patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The crew interdicted a suspect vessel, with the help of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft crew, and discovered 40 bales of suspected contraband after boarding the vessel, according to an article published on www.military.com. A field test later confirmed that the packages contained cocaine, which was estimated to have a wholesale value of more than $29 million,

“I am very proud of him and the entire crew. They worked diligently on this case,” said Fleming’s wife Shellie Fleming. “Just knowing that they’re out there keeping us safe and keeping these drugs from coming into our country is such a proud feeling.”

“This is the third major cocaine shipment this holiday season in the Sector San Juan area of responsibility in which the Coast Guard and Caribbean regional law enforcement partners have collectively detained a total of three vessels, six smugglers and kept over 4,847 pounds of cocaine from reaching criminal hands,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. “Our efforts to stem the flow of drugs into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as far off shore as possible is unwavering and will reduce crime across the region.”

Fleming joined the Coast Guard nearly 12 years ago after graduating from Hobgood Academy in 1998. Prior to that, he was a student at Tarboro High School, where he was a member of the JROTC. He and Shellie have an 11-year-old son, John “Russell” Fleming, III, and are in the process of adopting a 2-year-old daughter, Leah.

“He is our hero,” Shellie said. She added that Fleming is “very humble” about accomplishments such as the recent drug seizure, telling her it is just part of his job. Shellie was nervous when her husband first started going out on assignments, but that anxiety has lessened over the years.

“I just say a little prayer every time he leaves and knowing that he’s coming home,” Shellie said.

Lynne said she and her husband, Russ, took their son to the Coast Guard station on Emerald Isle when he was a boy.

“He just fell in love with it,” Lynne said. “He said that was what he wanted to do.”

Fleming has fulfilled his childhood wish to join the Coast Guard and serve his country. Currently, he is taking online classes to earn his degree in criminal investigations.