U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger last Thursday sentenced Frank Michael Lucas, 33, of Sylva to 13 years and four months in prison on drug trafficking charges, according to Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District. Lucas was also ordered to serve five years under court supervision and to pay a $10,000 fine.
On Oct. 11, 2018, Sylva Police Sgt. Heath Jones stopped a vehicle on Chipper Curve Road for equipment and moving violations. Lucas was driving, and a search uncovered one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamine.
Lucas was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine; maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; driving while license revoked; failure to use turn signal and displaying a license plate cover.
He posted a $200,000 secured bond and was released from the Jackson County Detention Center. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office assisted with that investigation.
According to information contained in filed court documents and last week’s sentencing hearing, on June 28, 2018, deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded 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, ammunition and $7,468 in cash.
On Oct. 25, 2018, Lucas was found to be in possession of an additional firearm.
In May he 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, 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.
“The Sylva Police Department has a front row seat to the devastation meth causes in our community, our families and those individual’s lives,” Police Chief Chris Hatton said. “This case is a significant win in our efforts to keep drugs out of the town of Sylva and Jackson County. I am proud of the Sylva Police Department for our role in this major case.”