Big drug bust on Artz Road part of federal case

Published 12:45 pm Friday, March 17, 2017

SALISBURY — Federal, state and local authorities have arrested 31 individuals in connection to a drug conspiracy based out of an Artz Road home.

According to an affidavit obtained from the Rowan County Courthouse, the conspiracy dates back to 2014, when the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation began targeting state-based methamphetamine rings. The investigation lasted three years.

“Through these investigative steps, authorities were able to determine that large amounts of methamphetamine ice, and in some occasions, heroin, were being transported from Mexico to California to Washington state to North Carolina for distribution,” the affidavit reads.

According to the document, Rowan County residents David Fox, whose home at 3045 Artz Road was used as a distribution center, Matthew Robertson, Roy Lee Hartford Jr. and John Clinton Dunbar were involved in the crimes.

The group reportedly had ties with the Aryan Brotherhood, among other groups. Dunbar, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, allegedly had contacts with Mexican national suppliers based in Washington, California and Mexico. Fox and Robertson were identified as two of his customers.

Several pounds of methamphetamine were seized during the course of the three-year investigation. Cooperating witnesses told law enforcement that they had seen Fox conduct up to 15 to 20 drug transactions per day.

The investigation culminated locally with searches on March 6 and 8 search at Fox’s Artz Road home. According to the affidavit, investigators seized approximately 32 grams of methamphetamine located in a book bag in the guest bedroom.

Residents of Artz Road reported seeing helicopters and investigators in plain clothes with bulletproof vests swarming the property.

According to warrants, 32 suspects were identified in the case, including Thomas David Martinez, known as “The Chemist,” a Rowan County resident with previous methamphetamine charges. One suspect has yet to be apprehended.

This story will be updated as more details become available.