Two men busted for possessing just less than half a kilogram of cocaine inside their vehicle last year on U.S. 321 in Lincoln County recently received a more than five-year sentence for drug crimes, narcotics investigators said.
Chad Bernard Beatty, 37, of 166 Ridge Valley Drive in Statesville, and Clifton Eugene Mason, 32, of 2663 Twilight Drive in Claremont, were sentenced on Dec. 7 and Nov. 2.
A judge ordered each man to spend between 70 and 84 months behind bars, a bittersweet victory for the community, deputies said.
“You always like to see someone get more (time),” Lt. Jason Reid, head of the Lincoln County Narcotics Unit said, “but when you can take drug suspects off the streets for more than five years that does make an impact.”
Reid said drug officers were able to bust the duo in November 2012 because of training they received as part of the Drug Interdiction Criminal Enforcement (DICE) team Sheriff David Carpenter created upon entering office three years ago.
Deputies, who were observing traffic at the time of the incident, stopped the men’s suspicious-looking vehicle traveling north on U.S. 321.
The stop occurred around 1:30 a.m. near Exit 20, the Sheriff’s Office said.
During a search of the vehicle, which the suspects agreed to, officers located 400 grams of cocaine inside a black duffle bag on the passenger side floorboard. They also seized cash, a pistol and less than an ounce of marijuana.
Mason tried to flee the scene, Reid said, once deputies discovered the two bricks of drugs, valued at between $60,000 and $200,000, depending on how it’s packaged and sold.
Officers pursued Mason on foot across the busy roadway, evading a tractor-trailer truck at one point.
Deputies apprehended him a short time later, placing him in handcuffs along with his criminal counterpart.
Reid said Beatty and Mason had ties to a substantial size drug operation north of Lincoln in Catawba County.
The drug lieutenant also labeled the incident the most significant cocaine bust for the law enforcement agency last year.
Initially jailed under a $1 million bond apiece, the men faced charges for felony trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver cocaine, maintaining a vehicle/dwelling place for a controlled substance and carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor charge.
Beatty was additionally charged with marijuana possession and Mason with resisting an officer.
Both men are now serving prison sentences in a state correctional facility.