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Atlanta man sentenced to 15-19 years in prison for meth trafficking

A 36-year-old Atlanta man was sentenced to 15 to 19 years in prison on Tuesday after his conviction for trafficking in methamphetamine, District Attorney R. Andrew Murray announced.

Chief Superior Court Judge Peter Knight sentenced Damian Lewis Furtch to the prison time after the defendant tried unsuccessfully to suppress evidence deputies seized after a traffic stop.

According to court records and Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, on February 19, 2019 at around midnight, Henderson County sheriff's deputies stopped Furtch the night of Feb. 19, 2019, for following too closely to the vehicle in front of him and failing to maintain lane control. Furtch was stopped on the U.S. 25 connector en route from Atlanta to Asheville.

The deputy that observed the traffic infractions and initiated the stop of defendant requested the assistance of a K-9 officer in the area to back him up on the late-night stop. While the deputy that initiated the stop was explaining a warning citation to the defendant, the K-9 deputy providing backup walked his K-9, who is trained and certified in the detection of illegal drugs, around the defendant’s vehicle. The K-9 immediately alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle, giving g the deputy that initiated the stop probable cause to search the vehicle. The stop and search were recorded on the deputy’s dash cam. The deputies located a handgun and large bag of methamphetamine, weighing in excess of 15 ounces or approximately 1 pound, in the rear storage area of Furtch’s van.

Two smaller bags of methamphetamine and digital scales were located in the center console area. The drug packaging conveniently had the defendant’s name written on it. The defendant confessed to possessing the trafficking level of drugs and informed the arresting deputy he was transporting the drugs for delivery to a recipient in Western North Carolina. The drugs were later tested by the NC Crime Lab and confirmed to be methamphetamine.

"The defendant will have the next 14-18 years in prison to ponder his ill-fated decision to destroy, and possibly kill, the lives of so many citizens through his distribution of such a harmful illicit drug," Murray said in a news release.

Assistant District Attorney Heather Brittain handled the prosecution of this case, including a lengthy hearing on the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the traffic stop, and finally the sentencing hearing of the defendant. Murray thanked the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and especially the Crime Suppression Unit and Drug Enforcement Team for their commitment to protecting the citizens of Henderson County and for their thorough investigation of this drug trafficking case. Their steadfast commitment to getting harmful illegal drugs off the streets of Henderson County undoubtedly prevented the destruction of numerous lives, Murray added.