By Alicia L. Stemper, Director of Public Information, Orange County Sheriff’s Office
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office assisted the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this afternoon with an operation in the Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot in Chapel Hill. One suspect was arrested on scene. A second suspect fled the area, after ramming into two vehicles in the parking lot. He ignored a traffic light and exceeded the posted speed as he turned south on Sage Road and then left onto U.S. Highway 15-501. Law enforcement officers, out of their vehicles making the arrests, were unable to pursue.
The suspect traveled toward Durham at a high rate of speed. Witnesses report he made multiple lane changes before causing several crashes and wrecking his car. He then fled on foot.
When a DEA agent travelling down 15-501 came upon the crash scenes, the suspect was out of his vehicle and a civilian was chasing him. He gave directions to the DEA agent who then gave pursuit on foot. After approximately three quarters of a mile, a deputy with OCSO got ahead of the chase. He took the suspect into custody when the suspect emerged onto a private lane called White Oak Drive, about three quarters of a mile from the crash scene.
Heavy traffic clogged 15-501 as multiple law enforcement agencies directed traffic, investigated the crashes, and cleared the road. The suspect’s car and four others were involved. Including the vehicles at the site of the original operation, seven vehicles were damaged. An ambulance transported one motorist to the hospital; her injuries are not believed to be serious.
All suspects are in custody and there is no ongoing danger to the public. Agents involved in the operation seized a total of three and a half kilos of heroin.
OCSO Chief Deputy Jamison Sykes discussed the impact of the seizure. “We know that every 11 minutes, someone dies in the United States as the result of an opioid overdose. One gram of heroin can kill a person. Thanks to the DEA, we were able to assist in the removal of 3500 grams of this drug from our community.”
Sheriff Charles Blackwood added, “Today’s events illustrate how far reaching the dangers of the drug trade are. We are relieved no one suffered serious injuries. The matter is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation and more information will be released as it becomes available, including the identities of the suspects and the charges they face. I also want to mention how much we appreciate the assistance of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Chapel Hill Police Department. Today was a perfect example of our motto ‘Many Agencies, One Purpose’.”