Rockwell man dubbed a ‘big player’ in heroin distribution sentenced to 19 years in prison

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SALISBURY — A Rockwell man dubbed a “big player” in heroin distribution was convicted Tuesday of trafficking in the drug and was sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison.

Grady Edward Austin Jr., 59, of Rockwell was convicted of two counts of felony trafficking in heroin by possession and transportation and one count of conspiracy to traffick in heroin.

Judge Lori Hamilton sentenced Austin to a minimum of 225 months to a maximum of 282 months or 23 1/2 years in prison. He was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine.

On June 9, 2016, deputies with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the State Bureau of Investigation and Salisbury Police Department, served a search warrant at Austin’s home.

Investigators searched the home after undercover operatives had made several purchases of heroin and methamphetamine from Austin, authorities said. During the search, investigators seized 47 grams of heroin found in Austin’s pants pocket, weapons and ammunition, more than $2,000 in cash, pills, meth ice, marijuana, and other paraphernalia.

Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook thanked Assistant District Attorney Barrett Poppler and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office in seeing that Austin was brought to justice.

Cook said her office will continue to hold those who sell illegal narcotics accountable for their actions.