Crime & Courts

Asheville man sentenced in Caldwell court on drug charges

An Asheville man has been sentenced to more than 18 years in prison for his role in a cocaine trafficking operation in Caldwell County, prosecutors say.

The defendant, Ryan O’Neil Jeffries, 38, suffered a serious eye injury when he crashed his car while trying to elude police during the arrest last year, authorities said.

Jeffries was convicted this week on three counts of trafficking in opium by possession, two counts of trafficking in opium by sale, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, and fleeing to elude arrest in a motor vehicle.

He was sentenced in Caldwell County Superior Court to between 18 years, nine months and 23 years, eight months in prison. He also was ordered to pay a $700,000 fine.

Jeffries was arrested last Oct. 8, after Lenoir police concluded what they said was the third undercover drug purchase from the suspect. Police said Jeffries got into his car on Hickory Boulevard near McClain Drive and led police on a 2 1/2-mile pursuit. That getaway attempt ended on Harper Avenue, police said, when Jeffries crashed his car into a fire station.

Jeffries was seriously injured and airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Prosecutors said undercover agents bought morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone from Jeffries. A co-defendant, Vanessa Snyder, has not gone on trial yet.