Crime & Courts

2 from Catawba County charged with drug trafficking

A three-month investigation culminated Wednesday in the arrest of a man and a woman from Catawba County on drug trafficking charges, according to Lincoln County authorities.

The suspects were arrested by detectives on N.C. 16 in eastern Lincoln County. Investigators with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said the suspects were headed to Catawba County after buying heroin in Charlotte.

The suspects were identified as Melissa Rashelle Sipe, 34, of Newton, and Jason Matthew Owens, 30, of Hickory. Authorities said they were selling heroin in Lincoln and Catawba counties.

Detectives allege they received information more than a year ago that Sipe was traveling to Charlotte to pick up quantities of drugs large enough to distribute. But it wasn’t until Wednesday, detectives said, that they were able to learn when Sipe would be buying drugs and returning to Catawba County.

Officers conducted a traffic stop on N.C. 16 Wednesday afternoon and said they found nearly 9 grams of black tar heroin, prescription drugs, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the car. They also reported seizing $700 in cash.

Sipe was charged with one count of trafficking in opium or heroin, conspiracy and possession of a controlled substance. She also was charged with four misdemeanors and was jailed under $35,000 bond. Owens was charged with trafficking in opium and conspiracy. He was jailed under $25,000 bond.

Lincoln County authorities said a conviction of trafficking more than 4 grams of heroin carries a mandatory prison sentence.