Accused heroin distributor arrested again on drug charges

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
ENOCHVILLE — Four days after posting a $300,000 bond, a 21-year-old accused of being a key distributor in an Enochville-based heroin ring was jailed again Monday on drug charges.
Rowan County deputy Jagger Naves arrested Joshua Branham, of Chris Drive, Monday afternoon on Cannon Farm Road.
Inside Branham’s green 1996 Honda Accord, Naves found balloons, wax paper, digital scales and seven tablets of Alprazolam, arrest warrants stated.
Branham was released Monday night after posting a $100,000 bond.
Branham was one of several charged Thursday in the county’s second largest heroin bust of the past year.
Along with Branham, authorities arrested 17-year-old Brandon Rumple, who they say ran a large heroin ring in Enochville.
Rumple and Branham each posted $300,000 bonds Friday.
According to arrest warrants, Naves, a member of the Sheriff’s Office Aggressive Criminal Enforcement team, pulled Branham over about 1:30 p.m. Warrants did not indicate the initial reason for the stop.
The 21-year-old was charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver narcotics, felony maintaining a dwelling for keeping and storing drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He and Rumple were charged with felony trafficking heroin, felony conspiracy to sell heroin and possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver heroin Thursday following an investigation into the fast-growing heroin industry in the southern part of the county.
Early last week, investigators served a search warrant on Billy Joe Barnhardt Jr.’s home. Deputies charged Barnhardt with possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver heroin. His wife, Lesa, was charged on citation with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Several days later, deputies and Concord Police raided Rumple’s apartment near Concord Mills.
More than 200 grams of heroin and a loaded handgun were seized during the raid, deputies said.
Authorities believe 17-year-old Rumple was the head of the heroin ring in Enochville, according to several deputies.
Branham is believed to be a Rumple’s primary distributor, authorities said.
According to arrest warrants, Branham’s cellphone was taken into evidence during Monday’s arrest.
Warrants said investigators believe Branham was using the phone to conduct drug deals.
Balloons, also found inside the car, are typically used for holding and storing drugs, search warrants have said.
Alprazolam, a generic name for Xanax, is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
Branham has a first court date scheduled for Wednesday on the most recent charges.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.