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Execution of search warrant leads to lockdown at Millbridge Elementary

Officers executing a state search warrant with a high risk entry in China Grove led to Millbridge Elementary School being locked down for an hour Thursday.
Around 11 a.m., the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and Department of Homeland Security executed the warrant at 1131 Meadowcreek Drive in China Grove.
Because the search warrant was considered a high risk entry, nearby Millbridge Elementary School was placed on a code yellow lockdown. The search was the culmination of a two week investigation into large scale opioid drug trafficking, and the sale of firearms from the residence.
Barry Ray Howard, 58, was arrested and faces federal charges of a felon in possession of a firearm, which was related to the sale of the .38 caliber handgun on May 2.
Howard was transported by investigators with the Sheriff’s Office and ATF Agents to Greensboro for an initial appearance. Howard has an extensive criminal history in Rowan and Cabarrus counties for drug trafficking and being a habitual offender.
Investigators were able to buy large amounts of oxymorphone and other drugs from the suspect, as well as the handgun with an obliterated serial number.
An SBI Special Response Team and Bomb Disposal team entered the residence where Howard was apprehended.
Five handguns, a rifle, two shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered. Despite concerns that explosives were present, none were found.
Investigators also found hundreds of doses of prescription pain medications that were being diverted from seemingly legitimate purchases to black market distribution.
Many of the bottles of medication were in the names of individuals, known as “smurfers,” who were obtaining the drugs from area doctors. Approximately $900 was found inside the residence. An additional $5,000 was found in a safe deposit box, after the execution of a second search warrant at a bank in Landis.

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