News Release
February 15, 2008
Contact: Chuvalo J. Truesdell
Number: 404-893-7124

Convicted Black Tar Heroin and Crack Cocaine Traffickers
Sentenced to 19 and 20 Years in Federal Prison
 Local/Federal Investigations Result In Lengthy Prison Terms

FEB 15 -- (Charlotte, NC) - Jairo Nunez-Sanchez, 25, an illegal alien living in Charlotte, was sentenced January 31, 2008 in federal court to19 years imprisonment for his leadership role in a black tar heroin distribution ring that operated in the Charlotte metropolitan area from March to August 2006. Nunez-Sanchez was convicted of money laundering and drug conspiracy and violation of the federal firearms laws. The case was investigated by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and agents of the Charlotte Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Antonio Maurice Craig, also known as “Cup,” 27, of Charlotte, was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday, February 12, 2008, to 20 years imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute “crack” cocaine in and around the Charlotte area from March 2005 to April 2006. The case against Craig was investigated jointly by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department working with the Charlotte Safe Streets Task Force. The Safe Streets Task Force is a specialized gang investigation team led by the FBI.

Today’s announcement is made by U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert of the Western District of North Carolina Carolina. “The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department working with federal agents on these cases has done our community a great service,” Shappert said. The U.S. Attorney is joined in making this announcement by Nathan T. Gray, Special Agent in Charge of North Carolina FBI Operations, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Charlotte Resident Office, John Emerson, and Chief Darrel Stephens of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Defendant Nunez-Sanchez was sentenced by the Honorable Robert J. Conrad, Jr., and Antonio Maurice Craig was sentenced by the Honorable Frank D. Whitney.

The case against Nunez-Sanchez and others was indicted originally in August 2006 as part of “Operation Black Gold Rush,” an international operation which targeted trafficking of black tar heroin in the United States. The multi-state investigation included activity in Tennessee, Indiana, California, South Carolina, Ohio, and Arizona. Of the original 13 defendants indicted in Charlotte in connection with “Operation Black Gold Rush” of which Nunez-Sanchez was the leader, five have been sentenced to terms of federal imprisonment. Three currently await sentencing, and the remaining defendants are fugitives.

The case against Antonio Maurice Craig was brought by FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, working closely with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The specialized gang task force in the Western District of North Carolina is comprised of agents and officers of ATF, FBI, ICE, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Gastonia Police Department, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, and North Carolina Probation and Parole. These partner agencies in the Charlotte metropolitan area conduct joint strategic and priority targeting of violent street gang membership such as Antonio Maurice Craig. By operating in a task force made up of federal and local officers and prosecutors working closely together on gang issues, a great continuity and coordination of investigations and prosecutions results, strategically eradicating illegal gang activity.

According to testimony at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing for Antonia Maurice Craig, he held a leadership role in a local gang known as “West Trade Bloods.” Tried before a federal jury in March 2007, Craig was found guilty of two counts in a three-count bill of indictment. According to trial testimony, Craig operated a “crack house” on Rachel Street in Charlotte for approximately a year beginning in March 2005. Witnesses testified at trial that when police served search warrants at Craig’s residence there were several minor children in his house, along with a large quantity of cocaine and marijuana.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith M. Cave prosecuted the cases. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The DEA Atlanta Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Rodney G. Benson, recommends that parents and children educate themselves about the dangers of drug abuse by visiting DEA’s interactive website at

# # #