Sophia Ridener, Shabazz Tucker, Terry Graham Jr., Keiana Webber, Sequoyah Burt : “Largest Fentanyl Seizure in Buncombe County’s History Reveals Details of Five-Month Investigation”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : ASHEVILLE — The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office recently made a significant breakthrough in the fight against drug trafficking, as they successfully conducted the largest fentanyl seizure in the county’s history. The operation, which spanned over five months, involved undercover operations, the use of confidential informants, extensive surveillance operations, and even the apprehension of a member of the notorious Bloods gang.

According to a news release, the sheriff’s office seized over 5 pounds of fentanyl during the execution of three arrest warrants on October 11. To put it into perspective, this amount is equivalent to approximately 1.1 million lethal doses of the deadly drug. The investigation into this large-scale drug trafficking operation began back in June when agents from the sheriff’s Illegal Gun Reduction and Narcotics Taskforce stumbled upon a drug trafficking organization operating out of two apartments on 60 Eastview Circle in West Asheville.

The landlord initially raised concerns about suspicious activities taking place in the apartments, noting the constant influx of cars and people at all hours of the day. The investigation quickly identified Sophia Ridener, 37, as the renter of one of the apartments, while Shabazz Tucker, 29, was identified as a frequent visitor. Tucker, who is not on the lease, was validated as a member of the Bloods gang back in 2018 by the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections.

Through surveillance operations and information provided by confidential sources, agents were able to establish Tucker as the leader of the drug trafficking operation. The investigation also revealed the existence of a third apartment linked to the organization, located at 1680 Hendersonville Road in South Asheville. An incident on October 8, where authorities responded to a call regarding a baby at the “drug” house, further solidified their findings.

Undercover operations were then conducted in August and September, during which a confidential informant made illegal narcotic purchases from both Tucker and Ridener. These purchases were later confirmed to contain fentanyl. To strengthen their case, agents interviewed a reliable and credible confidential informant on October 8 and 11, who confirmed that Ridener and Tucker were partners in the illegal narcotics trade, with Tucker serving as the supplier.

On October 11, the investigation culminated in the arrest of Tucker, Ridener, Terry Graham Jr., Keiana Webber, and Sequoyah Burt. A total of 59 criminal charges were filed against the five individuals, all of whom have either prior felony convictions or pending felony charges. Search warrants were executed for the three apartments, a storage unit, all cell phones, CashApp accounts, and a BMW.

Apart from the fentanyl, authorities also seized nearly 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 2 pounds of heroin, 2,500 pills, 31 grams of cocaine, 88 dosage units of suboxone, a handgun, and various drug paraphernalia from the apartments and storage unit. Currently, Tucker remains in the Buncombe County Detention Facility under a $520,000 bond, Ridener under a $250,000 bond, Graham Jr. under a $656,000 bond, and Webber under a $50,000 bond.

The defendants’ court dates have been scheduled, with Ridener appearing on December 7, Burt on February 9, and Tucker and Webber on February 20. Graham Jr. has multiple upcoming court dates, including December 11, January 3, February 1, and February 20.

This successful operation serves as a significant blow to drug trafficking in Buncombe County, and the sheriff’s office remains committed to combating this ongoing issue.

[Ryley Ober]( is the Public Safety Reporter for Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter @ryleyober.

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