ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) — A Maxton man has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to traffic methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin from Mexico to Robeson County, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday in a news release.

Antonio Lavonne Locklear pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute meth, cocaine and heroin, and possession of meth, cocaine, and heroin with intent to distribute.

“Our ongoing partnership with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office has secured this 25-year sentence for a large-scale drug trafficker bringing kilogram quantities of narcotics from Mexico into Robeson County,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said. “Narco-traffickers should be warned. The partnership between local law enforcement and federal agencies has never been stronger or more focused on dismantling drug trafficking organizations.”

Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said the sentencing of Locklear will have a positive impact within the Prospect community of Robeson County and beyond.

“The punishment Locklear received should be an eye opener to others that continue to wreak havoc on our county,” Wilkins said. “Thank you to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ATF for the partnership as we continue to try and make our county safer.”

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Locklear, 38, was identified during a multiyear investigation into a group of people from Robeson County who were trafficking controlled substances from Mexico into the Brownsville, Texas, area, the release said.

Investigators learned that members of the group would travel to Texas, cross the border to meet with suppliers, and then personally transport kilograms of drugs across the border and back to Robeson County, where the drugs would be sold, according to the release.

In March 2020, the Justice Department said Robeson County deputies seized more than 400 grams of cocaine while searching one of Locklear’s stash houses.

On October 14, 2020, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on a rental vehicle occupied by Locklear and two other people as they returned from Texas. Investigators found 2.3 kilograms of meth, 2.98 kilograms of cocaine, 967.7 grams of heroin and more than $58,000 inside the spare tire of the vehicle, the release said.

In the spring of 2021, investigators received information that members of the drug trafficking organization had resumed traveling to Texas to pick up controlled substances from the same suppliers, according to the release.

Through coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Patrol, co-defendant Jeremiah Eli Lowery was stopped at a border checkpoint near Brownsville, Texas on the way back into the United States from Mexico on April 8, 2021. 

A canine alerted officers to the presence of narcotics within the vehicle and 2.8 kilograms of cocaine were recovered along with 1.8 kilograms of meth from the spare tire, the release said.

Lowery was previously sentenced to 21 years for his role in trafficking drugs from Mexico.

The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Webb prosecuted the case.

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Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.