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L-R: Ashton Durrell Farley, Harold Marquis Wilfong, Thomas Eugene Ikard (Photos of other suspects not available)
Courtesy of Catawba County Sheriff's Office

Six Indicted On Federal Charges In Connection To Alleged Drug Trafficking Ring In Hickory Metro

A superseding criminal indictment has been unsealed in U.S. District Court, charging six members of an alleged drug trafficking ring with conspiracy to traffic fentanyl and methamphetamine and related drug or gun charges. The announcement was made Thursday (December 21) by Dena J. King U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Two of the defendants were already in custody.

The indictment is the result of a 10-month joint ATF and Hickory Police Department investigation aimed at reducing drug distribution and drug-induced criminal activity in Catawba County and surrounding areas. According to allegations in the indictment, filed court documents, and court proceedings, the drug trafficking ring operated out of Hickory, and distributed large quantities of fentanyl and meth in the area.

To identify the drug conspirators and their operations, ATF agents and HPD officers utilized controlled drug purchases, conducted physical surveillance, and executed search warrants. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement determined that members of the drug ring allegedly used several residences either as “stash houses” to store drugs and/or guns, or to conduct drug sales and other drug trafficking activities.

One of the alleged stash houses was located two blocks from the federal courthouse in Charlotte. During the investigation, law enforcement seized more than 4.5 kilograms of fentanyl, over 3.5 kilograms of meth, and more than 200 pounds of marijuana. Law enforcement also seized seven firearms used by some of the alleged traffickers, including an AR-15 rifle and a privately made firearm or “ghost gun,” and ammunition.

The indictment charges the six defendants with multiple offenses including conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and meth. The individuals charged are 35-year-old Ashton Durrell Farley, 30-year-old Whitney Necole Bryant, 42-year-old Tonya Quantina Jackson and 36-year-old Harold Marquis Wilfong, all of Hickory, 44-year-old Thomas Eugene Ikard of Lenoir, and 36-year-old Dustin Eric Wilson of Charlotte.

In making the announcement U.S. Attorney King commended the ATF and Hickory Police Department for their investigative efforts and thanked the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance with the arrests. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is in charge of the prosecution.

[News release from United States Attorney’s Office, Western District Of North Carolina]