Brittney Burns — Staff Writer
This past weekend, Macon County Sheriff’s Deputies worked with a confidential informant conducting an undercover investigation at 131 Woodland Hills Drive that resulted in four Macon County residents arrested on charges relating to the possession and distribution of heroin.
Macon County Sheriff’s Detective David Blanton applied for the search warrant on the property after an informant purchased heroin from Conner C. Sim at the residence. The search warrant was served on June 2, and upon entering the residence, MCSO officers found six occupants, two of which were the homeowners. Out of the other four occupants, officers witnessed two individuals, Bran Keith Curtis, 26, and Justin Dane Southard, 39, to be in possession of heroin. After completing the search warrant, occupants seized heroin, marijuana, prescription medication and multiple items of paraphernalia.
Curtis and Southard were both charged with felony counts of possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. They were both issued a $5,000 bond and were booked into the Macon County Detention Center.
Bethany Ann Sexton, 24, and Conner Christian Sim, 26, residents of 131 Woodland Hills Drive, were both arrested and charged with felony possession of heroin, felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling place of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of a scheduled II substance, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Both Sexton and Sim were booked into the Macon County Detention Center on a $30,000 bond.
In addition to being in possession of approximately one gram of heroin, Sexton and SIm were charged with possession of Methadone, a controlled substance under North Carolina law. Sgt. Clay Bryson, who assisted Detective Blanton in the investigation, said that one gram of heroin holds a street value of about $400.
All four individuals are scheduled to appear in court on June 16 at 9 a.m.
Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland said that the weekend’s heroin arrests are just the latest in a drug problem that is becoming more prevalent in the county.
“Anything that impacts one individual, whether it be heroin, or meth, or any other drug, ends up having devastating impacts on an entire family and that makes it a problem for our entire community,” said Holland. “We are seeing more and more drug activity involving heroin and will continue to do everything we can to stay on top of it.”
Holland said that while heroin related arrests have increased this year, it’s just the latest trend the sheriff’s office is trying to put an end to.
“The reality is, that as soon as we get a hold on this, there will be something new ready to take its place,” he said. “We have to continue to work to not just eliminate these problems, but to educate the community on the devastating effects these drugs have on our friends and families in hopes of preventing them from ever becoming a problem in the first place.”
The heroin epidemic isn’t specific to Macon County, but is something that officials statewide are working to combat. On May 20, 2016, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths, including overdoses from heroin, received a report of its 3,000th drug overdose reversal using the opioid antagonist, naloxone. Naloxone is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. As of May 23, 2016, the total number of reversals stands at 3,059.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the number of heroin deaths in North Carolina increased 584 percent from 2012 to 2014.
Local organizations such as Smoky Mountain LME/MCO and Full Circle Recovery Center are working to ensure naloxone is accessible to the public in hopes of preventing future overdoses. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition has worked to provide naloxone to law enforcement agencies in the state at little to no cost to the agencies. According to Holland, while his officers do not currently carry naloxone, his department has been exploring the possibility of carrying it in the future. Currently, local medical personnel carry the drug and the general public can have access to it through Full Circle Recovery Center.