RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Maxton man will spend 25 years in prison after being convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy responsible for moving kilograms of illegal drugs from Mexico to Robeson County, prosecutors said.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Antonio Lavonne Locklear pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin, and possession of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin with intent to distribute.
Court documents state that Locklear, 38, was identified during a multi-year investigation into a group of people from Robeson County who were trafficking kilograms of controlled substances from Mexico into the Brownsville, Texas area.
Investigators learned that members of this organization would travel to Texas, cross the border to meet with suppliers and then personally transport the drugs across the border and eventually back to Robeson County, where the drugs would be sold, prosecutors said.
“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.”
“The sentencing of Locklear will have a huge positive impact within the Prospect community of Robeson County and beyond,” Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said. “The punishment Locklear received should be an eye opener to others that continue to wreak havoc on our county. Thank you to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ATF for the partnership as we continue to try and make our county safer.”
While conducting a search warrant at one of Locklear’s stash houses in March 2020, prosecutors said the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office confiscated over 400 grams of cocaine. Later that same year, on Oct. 14, the sheriff’s office stopped a rental car occupied by Locklear and two other people as they returned from Texas. That stop resulted in investigators finding 2.3 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2.98 kilograms of cocaine, 967.7 grams of heroin and more than $58,000 in U.S. currency inside the spare tire of the vehicle, prosecutors said.
In spring 2021, investigators were informed that members of the drug trafficking organization had resumed traveling to Texas to pick up controlled substances from the same suppliers.
In collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Patrol, authorities stopped co-defendant Jeremiah Eli Lowery at a border checkpoint in Texas on the way back from Mexico on April 8, 2021.
This incident ended with officers recovering 2.8 kilograms of cocaine and 1.8 kilograms of methamphetamine from the spare tire, prosecutors said. Lowery has previously been sentenced to 21 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy, according to prosecutors.