21 facing federal charges in ‘large-scale’ drug ring involving several fraternities at NC universities

State - Regional

Cocaine powder in plastic bag with a packages

BOONE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Twenty-one people are facing federal charges in a “large-scale” drug ring that involved several fraternities at North Carolina universities, including Appalachian State, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration task force.

The drug trafficking investigation, conducted by the DEA and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, revealed drug activity involving members of several fraternal organizations at NC universities.

While working on a drug case several years ago, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it received information about the sale of illegal drugs on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

In November 2018, agents began an investigation into the distribution of cocaine hydrochloride and other illegal drugs in the Chapel Hill area.

“It became clear early in the investigation that illegal drug distribution occurred at or near some UNC fraternal organization properties,” the sheriff’s office said Thursday.

Court filings to date specifically allege illegal drug activity involving the UNC chapters of Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma, and Beta Theta Pi occurring between 2017 and the spring of 2020.

Over several years, the drug ring funneled more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, several hundred kilograms of cocaine, and significant quantities of other drugs into NC college campuses.

Estimates of the total drug proceeds are not presently available, but they exceeded $1.5 million, the sheriff’s office said.

According to court documents, investigators discovered that individuals were shipping cocaine from California via the U.S. Postal Service and transporting marijuana by vehicle. Involved parties shipped bulk cash proceeds from illegal drug transactions through the USPS. Other proceeds, estimated to be approximately $1.3 million, transferred hands through financial institutions utilizing money orders, Western Union, and mobile payment applications, the sheriff’s office said.

An Appalachian State fraternity member is also accused of being part of the drug ring, selling to fellow App State students as well as people in Chapel Hill.

Investigators also identified a female Duke student as being responsible for distributing cocaine to students at Duke and to fraternity members at UNC.

A primary supplier from California was the first person charged. According to court documents, from March 2017 until March 22, 2019, he supplied approximately 200 pounds of marijuana and two kilograms of cocaine weekly to a cooperating defendant in Orange County. Law enforcement operations at locations associated with the subject in Carrboro and Hillsborough resulted in the seizure of 148.75 pounds of marijuana, 442 grams of cocaine, 189 Xanax pills, steroids, human growth hormone, other narcotics, and approximately $27,775 in U.S. currency.

Between July and December, 2020, twenty additional defendants have been charged:

  • ANDREW BOYLAN GADDY, age 24, of Carrboro, NC;
  • TRAVIS MICHAEL EVANS, age 27, of Hillsborough, NC;
  • DANE LAMBERT SIMON, age 23, of Durham, NC;
  • BRIANHA NICOLE HASKELL, age 24, of Hillsborough, NC; and
  • MARIELA ZAVALA MENDOZA, aka Maria Ochoa, age 25, of Turlock, CA.
  • ZACHRE CHASEN ABERCROMBIE, age 27, of Charlotte, NC;
  • AMBER JANA JOHNSON, age 24, of Carrboro, NC;
  • JOHN FREDERICK HOLLOWAY, age 23, of Carrboro, NC;
  • DEVIN JAMES McDONALD, age 23, of Kill Devil Hills, NC;
  • JASON BLAKE NITSOS, age 24, of Greensboro, NC;
  • DEVON ANTHONY PICKERING, age 35, of Charlotte, NC;
  • EDISON TORRES ROBLES, aka Fransisco Gallego Mandez Rodriguez, age 26, of Durham, NC; and
  • JASON SHUANG XU, age 23, of Apex, NC.
  • CHANDLER DAVID ANDERSON, age 27, of Wilmington, NC, faces charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marihuana.
  • DAVIS LINDSEY BAYHA, age 21, of Chapel Hill, NC, faces charges of conspiracy to distribute marihuana; use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony; and distribution of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a public or private college or university.
  • KYLE PARRISH BECKNER, age 22, of Boone, NC, is charged with distribution of LSD and use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony.
  • BERNARD ALEKSANDER BUKOWSKI, age 24, of Raleigh, NC, faces one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • CHARLES CLEVEAU POINDEXTER aka Chase Poindexter, age 23, and JACKSON ALEXANDER NORRIS, age 22, of Chapel Hill, NC, are each charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine; use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony; and distribution of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a public or private college or university.
  • CHRISTOPHER ANTONIO REYES, age 26, of Greensboro, NC, is charged with conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marihuana.

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