129 Reservoir Drive, Cullowhee

A house at 129 Reservoir Ridge Drive, behind Hillside Grind adjacent to Western Carolina University, has been seized by the federal government. Authorities say the house was the site of drug traffic, leading to the arrest of Mark Loren Miller.

Herald Report

 

U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced Friday that the U.S. District Court in Asheville ordered the forfeiture of a residence at 129 Reservoir Ridge Drive in Cullowhee. The home was used to facilitate extensive drug activities, Murray said.

“The illicit drug trafficking that took place in the residence jeopardized the health and safety of the entire neighborhood,” he said. “The drug activity was particularly harmful to the community because the house was adjacent to the campus of Western Carolina University and near a preschool.”

A federal civil forfeiture complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on May 1, 2018, alleged that the residence was used for several years to facilitate the distribution of illegal narcotics, including LSD and marijuana. According to court documents, the residence was the site of multiple illegal drug transactions in 2017 and 2018, and posed a threat to the safety and welfare of the surrounding neighborhood, including the campus of Western Carolina University.

According to the complaint, as early as 2016, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office began receiving complaints from neighbors concerning drug trafficking activities by the owner of the residence, Mark Loren Miller, 32, who entertained heavy car and foot traffic on a daily basis. Court documents also show that Miller’s neighbors routinely recovered needles and other drug paraphernalia near the residence.

In 2018, law enforcement executed a search warrant at the residence, and recovered MDMA, a drug commonly known as “Ecstasy,” a large amount of cash, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia.

That joint operation was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, WCU Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Miller was arrested for five counts of sell/deliver schedule VI controlled substances; five counts of maintaining vehicle/dwelling/place to keep/sell controlled substances; five counts of sell controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a school; trafficking in LSD; conspire to sell schedule VI controlled substances.

The arrest warrant stated Miller dealt the drugs within 1,000 feet of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School and Smoky Mountain High School.

In June 2019, Miller pleaded guilty to various charges. The Herald report on the court cases at that time was as follows:

Sell controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school and maintain vehicle/dwelling/place for controlled substance, sentence of not less than 23 nor more than 40 months, given credit for seven days served, ordered to pay costs, substance abuse treatment, psychiatric and/or psychological counseling, work release and DART program recommended; sell controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school and maintain vehicle/dwelling/place for controlled substance, sentence of not less than 23 nor more than 40 months suspended for 24 months and placed on supervised probation on condition he pay fine of $100 and costs and obtain substance abuse assessment; sell controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, sentence of not less than 23 nor more than 40 months suspended for 24 months and placed on supervised probation on condition he pay fine of $100 and costs; sell controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, sentence of not less than 23 nor more than 40 months suspended for 24 months and placed on supervised probation on condition he pay fine of $100 and costs; sell controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, sell/deliver marijuana and conspire to sell marijuana, sentence of not less than 23 nor more than 40 months suspended for 24 months and placed on supervised probation on condition he pay fine of $100 and costs.

The civil case filed by the United States was stayed pending the resolution of Miller’s state criminal case. Following Miller’s guilty plea to state criminal charges related to his drug activities, litigation in federal court ensued.

In making the announcement U.S. Attorney Murray commended the collaboration between law enforcement agencies.

According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Miller is serving between 1 year, 11 months and 3 years, 4 months at the Rutherford Correctional Center.