Jimenez was most recently convicted of drug charges

A Carteret County man has been sentenced to a minimum of 23 years in prison as a habitual felon.

Joseph Steven Jimenez, 45, of Atlantic Beach, was convicted at the end of a two-day jury trial in Carteret County Superior Court last week. His most recent conviction is for possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin and possession of a firearms by a convicted felon. Prior to these charges, however, he had previously been convicted of 14 felony offenses in three counties.

Jimenez was a passenger in a car stopped by a Carteret County sheriff’s detective who noticed the car had an expired license plate, according to a release from the District Attorney’s Office. A subsequent search of the car resulted in the location of 10 packets of heroin, two Suboxone packets and assorted items of drug paraphernalia consistent with both the sale and use of narcotics.

With his 14 prior convictions, Jimenez was at the highest level for sentencing purposes. Superior Court Judge Ben Alford sentenced him to a term of 278 to 354 months in prison — or 23 to 29 years.

The driver of the car, Allison Barbour, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin in December and was placed on supervised probation as a result of her clean criminal history.