WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Raleigh man was sentenced today to 168 months in prison for conspiring with others to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and engaging in a money laundering conspiracy. He was also ordered by the court to forfeit $2,708,000 in laundered drug proceeds.
According to court documents, Richard Dwight Alston, 39, engaged in a multi-year and cross-country conspiracy to traffic in large amounts of marijuana and to distribute that high-grade marijuana to associates in Raleigh. After several years of investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service, on November 2, 2017, federal agents executed a search warrant for apartments that were suspected to be stash locations for Alston’s large-scale marijuana organization. During the search, agents located over 40 pounds of marijuana and $371,670.00 in United States currency. Agents were then able to arrange for the delivery of Alston’s next drug shipment on November 6, 2017. On that date, agents arrested two individuals who were responsible for transporting the marijuana intended for Alston and others. A search of their vehicle revealed 7 large duffel bags containing almost 200 kilograms of marijuana, along with $67,814 in United States currency. A financial investigation conducted by the IRS revealed that Alston had laundered drug proceeds of over $2.7 million through a business bank account over a period of several years.
The investigation was part of OCDETF Operation Pick Six. An Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.
Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) led the investigation, with assistance from the Raleigh Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura S. Howard prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-CR-00005-M.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.