Deputies: Heroin suspect caught with 400 bags

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Authorities say a major Wilson heroin supplier was caught in Rocky Mount this week with more than 400 bags of heroin in his car.

Earlier this month, investigators in the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office’s special operations and narcotics unit identified 61-year-old Willie Russell Lovely of 125 S. Discovery St., Rocky Mount, as a source of heroin being smuggled into Wilson, sheriff’s Chief of Staff Wanda Samuel said Friday.

“Detectives determined that Willie Lovely was residing in Rocky Mount and traveled to Wilson on a regular basis to supply heroin,” Samuel said in a news release.

Investigators obtained warrants for Lovely’s arrest and contacted the Rocky Mount Police Department. On Wednesday, Rocky Mount officers stopped Lovely’s car on Winstead Avenue near U.S. 64 and arrested him on the outstanding arrest warrants.

Lovely initially faced three counts each of selling or delivering heroin, trafficking heroin and maintaining a vehicle for the sale and delivery of heroin. Deputies added more charges after searching his car.

Samuel said narcotics detectives executed a search warrant for the vehicle and found more than 400 bags of heroin hidden inside. Lovely had more than 25 bags of heroin on his person at the time of his arrest, according to the sheriff’s office.

Since the drugs were discovered in their jurisdiction, Rocky Mount police charged Lovely with two counts of trafficking heroin and one count of maintaining a vehicle for the sale and delivery of heroin.

A Nash County magistrate set Lovely’s bond at $1 million on the combined Wilson County and Rocky Mount charges.

Sheriff Calvin Woodard said the COVID-19 pandemic won’t stop his deputies from cracking down on drugs and crime.

“The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office has taken extreme measures in preventing the coronavirus amongst our personnel and within our community,” Woodard said in the release. “We do understand that criminal activity does not cease as a result and we cannot ignore the death toll contributed by heroin within our communities. We will continue to practice universal precautions, pray for our community and ask that those distributing this poison to discontinue their actions beyond the mandated time period.”

N.C. Department of Public Safety records show Lovely served 3 months in prison from September to December 2016 after authorities revoked his probation on a 2015 Edgecombe County conviction of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Lovely also has pending charges in Edgecombe County — two counts each of possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed gun.

Following a Friday first appearance in Wilson County District Court, Lovely has an April 14 court date on the Edgecombe County charges and is due in court April 23 on the Nash County charges.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office received assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation and Nashville Police Department in addition to the Rocky Mount Police Department.