12/01/17 — Liquor houses raided in Goldsboro

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Liquor houses raided in Goldsboro

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on December 1, 2017 9:50 PM

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Officers pull on their bulletproof gear and chat about what's to come.

They are gathered in the parking lot of the Wayne County sheriff's annex off of U.S. 117.

Cars crank and officers load up before pulling out and forming a line along the highway, pointed toward the city.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office Nemesis SWAT vehicle joins the fray, as well as the Tactical Support Unit, and the line of vehicles rumble toward the city.

One group continues toward the south end, going to Isler Street, while another group veers off and heads down side streets before arriving at Seaboard Street.

As they turn onto the block, blue lights come on and officers rush out of the vehicle.

Officers yell to identify themselves before breaching the door and throwing a flash-bang grenade inside.

The operation was underway -- not just in Goldsboro, but across the state.

Law enforcement agencies raided two liquor houses in Goldsboro Friday night as part of an effort to crack down on the illegal operations and the violence authorities say is associated with the locations.

It was part of a statewide operation involving numerous agencies.

"We are making a statement that we are not going to put up with it," said Alcohol Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Eric Swain.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team and N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement agents executed a search warrant at 909 Seaboard St. at about 7 p.m.

People were detained behind the house while officers searched inside and a K-9 unit stood by.

Three people were arrested and charged -- one of them was the alleged operator of the liquor house, the second reportedly tried to run when law enforcement arrived and the third was wanted on other charges.

Their names, ages and addresses were not immediately available.

Officers with ALE and the Goldsboro Police Department's Selective Enforcement Unit and VICE Unit executed a search warrant at 729 Isler St. at about the same time officers were raiding the Seaboard Street location.

About nine people were inside of the home and were smoking marijuana when officers went inside, Swain said.

The alleged operator of the shot house was arrested and charged, and one person was cited for drug possession.

Their names, ages and addresses were also not immediately available.

Swain said the crackdown on liquor houses is an effort to keep the public safe and do the right thing for people living in the community.

"There are people in this community who have grown up here and lived their whole lives here, and they're held hostage here because of the violent crime," Swain said.

Wayne County ABC Law Enforcement Chief Joe Sadler said two of Goldsboro's most recent homicides also happened at liquor houses.

Those homicides happened on Oct. 11 and Nov. 18 -- the most recent of which was a double homicide.

Sadler said there is now a criminal summons out for the arrest of Earl Nails, 67, of 605 Second St., on the charge of possession of alcohol with intent to sell.

The Nov. 18 double homicide happened at Nails' residence.

Sadler said Nails has not yet been served with the criminal summons, which will likely happen early next week.

He added that Nails had allegedly been operating the liquor house on Second Street for about 12 months.

There were two bars inside his home -- one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom -- and Nails had several small cups to serve alcohol and beer with and a tip jar inside, Sadler said.

Sadler also said Nails was caught on video purchasing a large amount of alcohol at a local ABC store the night of Friday, Nov. 17, before the double homicide that happened at about 2:50 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18.

Nails reportedly told Sadler there was a party at his house that night.

"He said it was just a party, but that's all he's saying right now," Sadler said.

Authorities on scene Friday night said the Oct. 11 homicide was an armed robbery. The victim was shot and died about a week later.

Arrests have been made in both of those cases.

ALE also chalks up a Nov. 12 triple homicide in LaGrange to an armed robbery happening at a liquor house.

Friday night's operation in Goldsboro was not just local -- ALE agents were operating all over the state to crack down on illegal liquor operations and violations at legal establishments, also.

A press release from ALE listed other shootings, both fatal and non-fatal, that have happened recently in Fayetteville and Raleigh as evidence for why the operation occurred.

"Every available ALE special agent in the state will be participating in this special statewide operation with one goal in mind: to keep our citizens safe," said Terrance Merriweather, head of ALE. "One of the highest priorities of ALE is to prevent and address violence and other criminal activity at places where alcohol is sold. Our agents, working in partnership with sheriffs and police chiefs, will be out all night enforcing laws in and around these locations.

Officers seized varying amounts of alcohol from both liquor houses raided in Goldsboro Friday night. 

Many people who lived nearby came out of their houses to see what was going on, some asking if anybody was dead given the large presence of law enforcement.

Other residents expressed appreciation for law enforcement's efforts to raid the locations.

"This is a collaborative effort between the city, county and state to investigate the violent crimes in Wayne County that originate out of the areas where alcohol is being sold both legally and illegally," said Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce. "I want to thank all the agencies involved, and appreciate their efforts as we continue to try and stop the violence in Wayne County."