On Thursday, Nov. 21, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Frank Michael Lucas, 33, of Sylva, to 160 months in prison on drug trafficking charges, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Reidinger also ordered Lucas to serve five years under court supervision and to pay a $10,000 fine.
Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office; Sheriff Chip Hall of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff Curtis Cochran of the Swain County Sheriff’s Office; Chief Chris Hatton of the Sylva Police Department; and Chief Doug Pheasant of the Cherokee Indian Police Department join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
Sheriff Cochran said he would like to thank everyone that was involved in this investigation. Mr. Lucas prior to his indictment was actively trafficking methamphetamine in Swain County. This is just another example of our continued working relationships with our local, state, federal, and tribal partners we can keep these types of people out of our communities.
According to information contained in filed court documents and the sentencing hearing, on June 28, 2018, deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office were responding to a domestic call at the defendant’s camper located in Sylva. While there, law enforcement observed a firearm inside the camper. Lucas, who was at the time on probation for a state conviction, was prohibited from possessing a firearm. Subsequently, a North Carolina probation officer conducted a warrantless search and recovered from inside the camper several grams of methamphetamine, which Lucas possessed with the intent to distribute, four firearms, one of which was loaded, ammunition, and $7,468 in cash.
Court records also show that on October 11, 2018, Lucas was also found to be in possession of a kilogram of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it to others, and on October 25, 2018, Lucas possessed an additional firearm. In May 2019, Lucas pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
Lucas is currently in custody. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
In making the announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the DEA, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office, the Sylva Police Department and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigation of this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.