After being charged with shoplifting, a Havelock woman was caught trying to sell hundreds of prescription pills to the same narcotics officer who had interviewed her at the police station just hours earlier.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” said Lt. Brian Woods, of the Havelock Police Department. “It blows my mind.”
Sarah Elizabeth Price, 21, of 235 Cedar Ridge Lane in Havelock, is charged with one count of felony sale and delivery of a Schedule IV controlled substance and two counts of possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance.
Price’s boyfriend, identified as Melvin Charlton, 23, of the same address, was charged with one count of possession with intent to sell and deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance.
The two were arrested Wednesday after laboratory results positively identified 862 tablets found at the couple’s residence as being the substance Alprazolam, commonly sold as the prescription drug Xanex, Woods said.
The couple’s trouble began when Havelock Police responded to Food Lion for a report of a shoplifter at 1:21 p.m. on Nov. 2. Price had been detained by store personnel for allegedly attempting to steal a get well card. At the time she was found in possession of several small blue pills she said were Xanex but she had no prescription for them, Woods said.
Police charged her with misdemeanor larceny at the time, but held back on making charges concerning the drugs pending lab analysis, Woods said.
Because of the quantity and type of pills Price had, officers called in a member of the department’s drug task force to interview the woman on Nov. 2. The undercover officer, who the Havelock News is not identifying, said that Price claimed the drugs had come from Serbia. The undercover officer told Price he would call her later in the evening to meet and talk about the Serbian connection.
At 10 p.m., the officer called Price on the telephone and she agreed to meet him at her residence. The officer, along with a member of the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement and a member of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, all wearing plain clothes, drove to Price’s residence in an unmarked car. The ALE and NCIS officers were working with Havelock Police on the drug task force.
“I couldn’t find her house number so I called her on the phone and said ‘This is detective so and so and I can’t see your house number. Could you step out of your house so I know which house you’re at?’” the officer recalled Friday.
The undercover officer said Price met him on the sidewalk in front of her home at which point she allegedly said “Hey, we got to do this quick because the detective is going to be here any minute. What are you looking for?”
The detective, recognizing Price’s apparent confusion, responded “What do you got?” and she says “The pills. You know. The pills.”
The undercover officer said he sent the ALE and NCIS agents back to the car.
“I turned to them and I said ‘Get back in the vehicle. Get back in the vehicle. I’m going to buy drugs from her,” the undercover officer recalled. “They think I’m joking, which I’m not.”
Price then reportedly said again “We got to do this quick. The detective is coming” and she goes back into her house to retrieve the pills, the officer said.
The three officers, who had not been planning on making a buy, scrounge together $100 with which to purchase pills from Price.
“While they’re trying to find the money, she comes back out and shows me three pills that were the same pills she showed me earlier that day,” the undercover officer said.
The officer said he had on the same clothes and looked the same as when he had interviewed Price just hours earlier.
“At about 3 o’clock that day I interviewed her in the same clothes I was wearing at 10 o’clock and looking the same way I looked at 10 o’clock, so she shows me the three pills and I said ‘Can we get more’ and she said ‘Yeah, we’re getting 2,000 on Monday,’ so I went ‘I’ll take a hundred if you got ‘em,’ so she says ‘Well how much will you pay for ‘em?’ and I said ‘I’ll give you $100 for them right now.’ And she says ‘OK, but we got to hurry up,’” the detective recalled.
“Obviously this is a humorous situation,” the officer said of the other agents. “They can’t believe this is happening.”
The officer said Price came out of the house and poured 56 one-milligram blue tablets into his hands. He gave her $100 and asked for more pills.
Meanwhile, the ALE and NCIS agents joined the Havelock agent and Price in her front yard, telling her they wanted as many pills as she can spare and saying that they could easily get rid of them in Atlantic Beach.
“They’re carrying badge and gun, but it’s concealed at this particular time,” the Havelock agent said.
Price invited the three men into her home where they meet Price’s boyfriend, Charlton, a sailor assigned to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 at Cherry Point.
“Sarah says ‘These guys are going to help us sell the pills in Atlantic Beach.’ She then walks over to a vacuum cleaner and unzips the bag and pulls out a pill bottle about the size of a soda can, half full of pills, which totaled about 862 tablets.,” the officer said.
The Havelock officer said at that point they identified themselves as the detectives that were coming to meet Price at her home, but he said she apparently didn’t understand what had just happened.
“OK, we’ve got to hurry up, the other detectives are going to be here any minute,” Price said, according to the undercover officer.
The two were not charged on Nov. 2, pending lab results. The results came back on Wednesday and officers moved in to make the arrests. The NCIS lab did the preliminary tests and they came back positive for Alprazolam, Woods said.
Woods said that the pills did come from Serbia, through Memphis, Tenn., and that they were manufactured by the company Galenika and purchased online.
Price and Charlton were initially taken to the Craven County Jail but have since been released on bond.
Woods said it appeared that Charlton was allegedly behind the scheme.
“He’s very together. He understands the stupidity of what has happened,” Woods said. “The larceny was a get well card to be sent to her brother in jail in Memphis.”
Both Price and Charlton are originally from Memphis, Wood said.
Officers involved said they were astounded at the lack of awareness exhibited by Price, who told officers she had consumed only two Xanex pills and a beer on the date of the drug sale.
“You’ve got some crooks that are dumb as dirt and others that are brilliant,” Woods said.
He said he had been an officer for 20 years but had never seen anything like this.
“I’ve seen some funny things, but this one surely takes the cake,” he said. “Not a lot of brain power for this one.”