It turns out that a substance seized in a July raid wasn't what North Carolina law enforcement officers thought it was. This summer, agents who work for the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office seized 13 pounds of what they thought was fentanyl. The sheriff touted this as "one of the largest seizures" of the deadly opioid in the state. This much fentanyl would have a street value of over $2 million.
Heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia were also allegedly found at the scene and seized. Three people were arrested.
However, subsequent tests by a private lab showed that the initial field test done by detectives that indicated that the bag of white powder was fentanyl was flawed. Early lab tests indicated that the substance was "combination of simple and complex carbohydrates." Later tests, however, revealed it to be pure sugar.
A representative of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office blamed the false positive on a faulty field kit provided by the drug testing company. An official with the company says, "Under certain circumstances, sugar substances can mimic a false positive result. This is something we discovered after this case. We will be incorporating this into our training program to make sure this doesn't happen again."
The charges involving fentanyl against the three people who were arrested have been dropped. It wasn't reported whether they were still facing charges regarding the other drugs and drug paraphernalia allegedly found at the scene.
When someone is charged with a drug-related crime, it's essential to verify that the evidence was properly handled throughout the investigation and accurately tested. This is just one reason why no one should face drug charges without an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney in their corner. The consequences of a drug conviction are too high to go through the justice system alone.