Monday, 26 October 2020 18:45

Rockingham detective honored by SBI for meth busts

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Rockingham detective honored by SBI for meth busts Courtesy Rockingham Police Department

ROCKINGHAM — A local police officer has been recognized by the state’s top law enforcement agency for her role in combating methamphetamine production in Richmond County.

The N.C State Bureau of Investigation Clandestine Laboratory Response Unit awarded Detective Keeley Sutton of the Rockingham Police Department a certificate of appreciation on Oct. 20.

The certificate reads:

“This certificate is presented in recognition of your proactive steps in identifying individuals involved in the manufacturing of methamphetamine in Richmond County. Your dedicated pursuit in this investigation resulted in a successful prosecution and a positive impact on the community.”

Sutton was hired by the Rockingham Police Department in 2016.

Her name can be found on multiple arrest warrants and arrest reports relating to drug activity, including meth busts, in the city.

Last year, a traffic stop conducted by Sutton and another officer resulted in a meth lab bust on Robinson Street.

A few weeks earlier, Sutton charged a man with trafficking after finding more than 250 grams of meth in a vehicle during a traffic stop.

Several years ago, Richmond County ranked third in the state for the number of meth lab busts.

There were only three in the county, including the aforementioned lab, last year, according to the SBI. Records show 2019 was the first year there were fewer than 100 meth labs discovered statewide since 2003.

In 2018, Richmond County tied with Johnston and Sampson counties for the fourth-highest number of busts with seven each. Onslow topped the list with 11, Buncombe had nine and Harnett had eight.

In 2014, the sheriff’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina initiated a federal meth conspiracy investigation, which has resulted in the prosecution of more than 60 individuals for their roles in methamphetamine production in Richmond County.