News Release
February 24, 2010
Contact: Chuvalo J. Truesdell
Number: 404-893-7124

Wilmington Man Sentenced in Drug Distribution Case

FEB 24 --NEW BERN, NC - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding and Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division (AFD) announced, that in federal court on February 11, 2010, Chief United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced a 61-years-old, Wilmington, North Carolina, man, WINDELL NORWOOD HICKS, in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation (OCDETF) investigation entitled Operation Monarch. HICKS received 160 months imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on January 29, 2009. On October 5, 2009, HICKS pled guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams of cocaine base (crack) and a quantity of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin.

The investigation centered around the possession with intent to distribute and distribution of substantial amounts of heroin obtained in the New York City area and brought to Wilmington, North Carolina for sale.

The investigation began as a cocaine distribution investigation and during the course of the investigation agents discovered a heroin distribution ring. HICKS ran a grocery store, Ruth’s Grocery Store, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and distributed controlled substances, including heroin from inside the store to other drug traffickers.

DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson stated, “We removed another crack and heroin trafficker from the streets. This criminal can no longer distribute doses of poison to the Wilmington community. The sentencing is appropriate for the crimes that he committed. This investigation was a success because of the great working relationship that DEA has with its federal, state and local counterparts.”

Mr. Holding commented, “We continue to see success through OCDETF operations. These investigations target some of our most prolific drug distribution networks operating across state and national borders. These investigations are essential if we are going to defeat drug trafficking in North Carolina.”

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the Wilmington Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorneys Michael G. James and Timothy Severo are the assigned prosecutors. Mr. Severo is a prosecutor with the New Hanover District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Ben David has assigned him to the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force criminal matters. This has been made possible by a grant funded by the Governor’s Crime Commission and the New Hanover County Commissioners.

DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at, and