Trafficking has long plagued the Carolinas, but it was a less than conventional form of the crime that caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice and resulted in federal charges being filed in Asheville’s U.S. District Court on Monday. The crime? Trafficking bear parts from western North Carolina. According to court documents, Vu Johnny Nguyen of Virginia made multiple trips to western Carolina in 2014, during which he was involved in the illegal black market barter of American black bear body parts and organs. Despite black bears being protected under multiple federal and state laws, reports suggest that there is demand for their parts — like gall bladders and bear claws — for use in traditional Asian medicine. Nguyen pleaded guilty in court Monday. His charges carry a maximum five year prison sentence, in addition to a fine of $250,000.
It’s barely been two years since Olde Mecklenburg Brewery relocated to Yancey Road and opened their sprawling 8.5 acre biergarten and brewhouse, but the Charlotte brewery has apparently already outgrown the massive space. According to permits filed with Charlotte City Council, Olde Mecklenburg has plans to further expand the outdoor biergarten to 52,200 square-feet, and add a new 13,400 square-foot building on the back of the property, bordering South Tryon Street. The plans are a work in progress, but the brewery got the green light to move forward when city council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning last night.
CMPD announced Monday that a man awaiting trial for felony charges is at large after removing an electronic monitoring device he was ordered to wear as a condition of his bond. Reports indicate that Damien Montrell Billy, 35, was near the 1100 block of E. 36th Street in NoDa prior to removing the monitoring device. Billy faces charges of assault with deadly weapon with the intent to kill, as well as multiple firearm related charges.
CMPD has released the identities of three suspects who have been arrested and charged in connection to a series of armed car thefts and robberies that occurred earlier this month in Steele Creek. The suspects have been identified as China Montice Blount, 17; Jamaka Culbreath, 17; and Alexis Johnson, 16. According to reports, in the early morning hours of September 15th the suspects stole multiple vehicles at gunpoint. Two of the suspects were arrested and charged on Sunday, and the third suspect was arrested Monday. CMPD reveals that the suspects may face additional charges as the investigation remains open.