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Two Halifax County men have been charged with trafficking cocaine after they were stopped by Wilson County Sheriff’s Office detectives and deputies working in conjunction with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Roanoke Rapids Police Department.

Wilson County said in a statement more than 10 pounds of cocaine were seized from the vehicle following the stop Monday.

In the gallery: Dean, left, and Whitaker

Charged in the stop were Shermarquette Bernard Whitaker, 36, of Littleton, who was identified as the driver, and Mark Vincent Dean, 50, of Roanoke Rapids, who was the passenger.

The men are currently housed in the Wilson County Detention Center on $3 million secured bonds. They have October 8 court dates in Wilson County.

According to the statement, detectives with the sheriff’s office special operations-narcotics unit were assisting the SBI and Roanoke Rapids police when deputies conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling northbound on Interstate 95 near the 109 mile marker for a traffic violation. 

While conducting the stop, Uno, a Wilson County canine, indicated a positive alert for the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently searched and revealed the more than 10 pounds of cocaine.

The men face charges of trafficking cocaine by possession, trafficking cocaine by transportation, and conspiracy to traffick cocaine. 

Roanoke Rapids Chief Bobby Martin said this morning, “Our narcotics agents and PACE team have been working on high profile drug activity in the Roanoke Rapids area.Through investigation and hard work in regards to identifying these two individuals, they were stopped by the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and with the assistance of the SBI, we were able to identify these two individuals and get the information to Wilson County. Wilson County was outstanding in helping our agents in identifying these individuals.”

Martin said, “We appreciate any assistance we get because we have to work together to combat the narcotics traffic in our area. This is just a prime example of sharing information and getting narcotics off the street before they reach their destination.”

Martin said the police department has been looking at Whitaker and Dean “for a while now.”

Asked if the cocaine was destined for Halifax County, the chief said, “I feel confident it would end back up in Halifax County. These two individuals are known here in our area.”

While he could not speak with certainty on the expanse of the men’s reputed drug business, Martin said, “With that amount it could have been distributed in the north, south, east and west. We definitely put a dent in the cocaine trade in our area for now. There’s always someone eager to step in and try to resume and go in their footsteps. However, if you want to sell narcotics we will come and see you. You just know you will be seeing us sooner or later.”

Roanoke Rapids Captain Jamie Hardy, Sergeant Chris Babb and SBI Agent Sam Corn, and PACE team members Joe DeSare and Brandon Council have all been working on the case, Martin said.

Asked if the case was bound for federal court, Martin said, “I can assure you we will be making a phone call to the United States Attorney’s Office. We greatly appreciate the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. I’m glad they were able to get the stop and get 10 pounds off the street. It was definitely headed in our direction and we appreciate the assistance.”