By VAN HOLLAND
A Tarboro man was convicted Wednesday of trafficking opium in Edgecombe County Superior Court after he accepted a plea bargain. The sentence was one of the stiffest law enforcement officials have seen handed down in the county in quite a while.
Superior Court Judge Walter Godwin ordered 37-year old Melvin Ray Fox to serve no less than 70 months and no more than 84 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections. The judge also ordered Fox to pay a $50,000 fine upon being released from prison.
"The sentence makes a statement that anyone who is caught selling drugs in this county will be punished according to the law," Sheriff James Knight said. "By the judge sentencing him to that much time is good for the community, because that is one dealer we have gotten off the streets for awhile."
Fox was originally charged with two counts of trafficking opium or heroin, two counts of possession with the intent to sell and deliver schedule II and two counts of maintain a vehicle/dwelling place to store controlled substances.
After he accepted the plea bargain, the other felonies were subsequently dropped.
A search of Fox's Longview Avenue residence uncovered a large quantity of prescription pills. The search came after agents made two undercover buys from Fox.
On Aug. 9, 2011, agents executed a search warrant at Fox's residence which yielded over 700 pills. They found 567 hydrocodone, 100 oxycodone, 51 xanax, 2 viagra, two hand guns and $6,272 in cash, which was all seized. The drugs added up to over 340 grams.
The sheriff's department was able to charge Fox with trafficking, because according to General Statue guidelines, whether a defendant is charged with trafficking as opposed to possession, depends upon the quantity of drugs. At least four grams is required to qualify for trafficking opium.
"My guys worked hard on this case and were able to build a solid case against the suspect," Knight said. "This should show the community that their complaints aren't falling on deaf ears. It just shows that we are doing something about these complaints and are trying to get all of the people off the streets."