Blair Jay Whitham, 67, of Bolivia and James Michael Beneway, 53, of Bolton were arrested Wednesday on charges in Brunswick, New Hanover and Columbus counties.
By F.T. Norton StarNews Staff
WHITEVILLE — Two area men were jailed Wednesday and eight pounds of marijuana seized in a marijuana distribution case that spanned New Hanover, Brunswick and Columbus counties, according to officials.
Blair Jay Whitham, 67, of Bolivia and James Michael Beneway, 53, of Bolton were arrested Wednesday on charges in Brunswick, New Hanover and Columbus counties, and police seized marijuana and $140,000 cash, according to a release from the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.
During the weeks-long investigation, detectives from the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office made six undercover purchases of marijuana from Beneway, according to the release. Three transactions were completed in January and three transactions were completed in February.
During the investigation, detectives learned that Beneway’s alleged source — Whitham — was a former business owner in the construction industry. Due to Whitham’s business, he had a large network of contacts in various states including New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Colorado.
“This network of contacts in the northern states enabled Whitham and Beneway to easily distribute marijuana from brokers in the midwestt states to North Carolina,” the release states, naming Beneway as the alleged courier for the marijuana operation.
The investigation also revealed Whitham owned properties in New Hanover and Brunswick counties which he allegedly used to distribute the marijuana, according to the release.
On Wednesday, with both New Hanover and Brunswick County sheriff’s offices involved in the investigation, the final undercover purchase of a pound of marijuana was allegedly made from Beneway in New Hanover County.
Law enforcement then executed search warrants simultaneously at properties on Aaron Fullwood Drive in Bolivia, Park Avenue in Wilmington and Loop Road in