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Heroin trafficker sentenced after guilty plea deal

Michael Tripp (Craven County Sheriff's Office photo)

A Vanceboro man has pleaded guilty to charges of dealing heroin and was sentenced on Friday.

Michael Devon Tripp, 30, pled guilty prior to trial this week in Craven County Superior Court. A judge sentenced him to between 6.5-9 years in prison for dealing heroin.

Below is a press release from District Attorney Scott Thomas' office with more information.

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District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that MICHAEL DEVON TRIPP, 30, of Vanceboro, pled guilty prior to his case being called for jury trial this week in Craven County Superior Court. He was sentenced to prison for 78 to 112 months (6 ½ to 9 years) for charges arising out of dealing heroin. The cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Chekesha Hukins, and the presiding judge was Superior Court Judge Charles Henry.

The cases were investigated by the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, and the Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), a multi-agency narcotics unit based in Craven County, which functions under the direction and control of the Chief Executives. The Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team is comprised of sworn law enforcement detectives from the New Bern Police Department, Craven County Sheriff’s Office, Havelock Police Department, and other agencies.

CNET received information in 2017 that Tripp was selling heroin laced with fentanyl. CNET conducted a controlled buy from Tripp, and as a result of that buy, investigators obtained and executed a search warrant for Tripp’s residence in Vanceboro.

Tripp was located on the property when officers arrived to conduct the search. As a result of a pat-down for weapons, Tripp was found in possession of a plastic bag corner containing a mixture of heroin and fentanyl weighing 7.01 grams. Investigators also recovered numerous items of stolen property and tools that Tripp had traded for heroin/fentanyl doses. Officers also seized more than $ 2000 in cash and a Winchester rifle. Tripp was arrested and charged, and was able to post bail. Less than a week later, when investigators went to serve Tripp with new warrants for possessing the stolen property, they found him again in possession of a plastic bag containing a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.

The jury term began on Monday, and Tripp entered his guilty plea prior to the start of jury selection. He pled guilty to: Trafficking in Heroin, two counts of Possession 2 with Intent to Sell or Deliver Fentanyl, one count of Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Heroin, and felony Maintaining a Dwelling for Controlled Substances. Judge Henry imposed active prison sentences totaling 78 to 112 months (6 ½ to 9 years). He also ordered Tripp to pay a mandatory $ 50,000 fine, court costs, and laboratory analysis fees. The money seized by law enforcement was forfeited to the Craven County school system, and the rifle was forfeited to the Sheriff’s Office for its use or sale.

District Attorney Scott Thomas said, “Craven County Sheriff’s Office investigators and CNET conducted a good investigation which resulted in this guilty plea and prison sentence. Cooperation between law enforcement agencies is important as we fight illegal drug activity. That is why we formed CNET several years ago and have experienced much success with investigations and prosecutions.”

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