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Joseph Paul Mosteller
WHKY file photo

Burke County Man Sentenced In Federal Fentanyl Trafficking Case

42-year-old Joseph Paul Mosteller of Morganton was sentenced Thursday (June 13) to 17 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for trafficking fentanyl. The announcement was made by Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Sheriff Banks Hinceman of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Don Brown of the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, and Chief Reed Baer of the Hickory Police Department were among those who joined U.S. Attorney King in making the announcement.

According to court documents and Thursday’s sentencing hearing, in June 2023, law enforcement initiated an investigation into Mosteller for suspected fentanyl and methamphetamine trafficking in Burke and Catawba Counties. As WHKY previously reported, on June 2, 2023, law enforcement were conducting surveillance of Mosteller, and observed the defendant and another individual, who was carrying a shoebox, walking toward Mosteller’s car, which was parked in the parking lot of a hotel in Hickory.

Law enforcement attempted to arrest Mosteller before he drove off in his vehicle. Law enforcement arrested the other individual and seized the shoebox, which contained methamphetamine. The individual told law enforcement that Mosteller had received a delivery of meth at the hotel the previous day.

According to court documents, on June 22, 2023, law enforcement believed Mosteller had received meth and was at a residence in Burke County. Law enforcement observed Mosteller enter a vehicle that had been parked in the driveway. As he drove off in the vehicle, law enforcement attempted to conduct a traffic stop but Mosteller did not stop and instead began to drive off at a high speed.

Mosteller travelled several miles before colliding into an embankment. Law enforcement arrested Mosteller and seized a paper bag found inside the vehicle. The bag contained multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl, packaged for distribution. Later the same day, a search was conducted at the Burke County residence. During the search, law enforcement seized additional distribution amounts of fentanyl and digital scales.

Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over Mosteller’s hearing and ordered the defendant to remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending transportation to a designated federal Bureau of Prisons facility.