Armed Drug Trafficker with Multiple Criminal Convictions is Sentenced to 26 Years in Prison
ASHEVILLE, NC – U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced today that Benjamin Dann Owens, 36, of Hayesville, N.C., was sentenced to 312 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, Oxycodone, and other narcotics as well as conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
According to filed court documents and court proceedings, on December 20, 2020, at approximately 2:55 a.m., a deputy with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office attempted to conduct a traffic stop of Owens’s vehicle for multiple traffic violations. Owens failed to obey and instead began to drive recklessly at high speed. Owens evaded law enforcement and proceeded to abandon his vehicle. When law enforcement located and searched Owens’s vehicle, they found multiple firearms and ammunition, knives, as well as methamphetamine, Oxycodone pills, and marijuana. Later the same day, Owens was observed walking around Hayesville carrying a bag. When law enforcement attempted to stop Owens, he ignored the officers, threw the bag he was carrying in the nearby woods, and fled on foot. Law enforcement recovered the bag, and inside they found more firearms and ammunition, over 1,100 pills containing fentanyl, methamphetamine, marijuana and other narcotics.
According to court documents, on December 21, 2020, law enforcement executed search warrants at Owens’s residence and outbuildings on the property. Law enforcement seized from the residence more drugs, firearms, and ammunition. Law enforcement also discovered a marijuana grow operation and removed more than 135 marijuana plants from a shed on the property.
On January 7, 2021, law enforcement spotted Owens driving in Hayesville. Owens fled at high speed. Law enforcement followed Owens who eventually crashed his vehicle and fled on foot in the Nantahala National Forest. Owens was arrested shortly thereafter. Law enforcement recovered several loaded firearms, knives, and thousands of rounds of ammunition from the crash scene. Owens has multiple prior convictions in Georgia and North Carolina for drug trafficking, illegal gun possession, and other criminal offenses.
On August 19, 2022, Owens pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, Oxycodone, marijuana, MDA, and Suboxone, and conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants. He remains in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their investigation of the case.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.
The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com, www.CampusDrugPrevention.gov, and www.dea.gov . Also follow DEA Atlanta via Twitter at @DEAATLANTADiv