Local News

2 Paratroopers Charged With Selling Drugs, Stolen Equipment

Posted June 21, 2007 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2007 7:45 p.m. EDT

— Two 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers have been charged with selling narcotics and stolen body armor to an undercover FBI agent last month.

Joffre J. "Trey" Cross III and Jason Scott Niewoit have been charged with selling controlled substances, carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime and selling U.S. property without consent.

U.S. Magistrate Wallace W. Dixon ruled that the two soldiers posed a flight risk and a danger to the community and ordered them to be held without bond in the Durham County Jail.

"Both have been such disciplinary problems that they have been separated from their assigned units while awaiting discharge; both have aligned themselves with extremist groups in the U.S.," Dixon wrote in his order.

Federal court documents detail a May 24 meeting between Cross, Niewoit and an undercover FBI agent in the parking lot of a Hampton Inn in Concord. The two soldiers tried to sell the undercover agent medical supplies they said had been stolen from the Army, according to records.

After the agent rejected the medical supplies, the soldiers pulled out a desert-camouflaged, bullet-resistant vest with front and back protective plates and a helmet, which they sold to the undercover agent for $900, according to court records. Cross told the undercover agent that the vest was the same type troops used in Iraq and Afghanistan, records said.

The agent then purchased 30 vials of morphine sulfate for $450 and 12 vials of Diazepam for $120 from the soldiers, who had a cache of drugs inside a locked case, according to court documents.

Niewoit offered the undercover agent a second bullet-resistant vest with a single protective plate, and the agent purchased it for $400, records state. Cross also tried to sell a semiautomatic rifle to the undercover agent, but the agent refused, records said.

Dixon's detention order also stated that the two soldiers offered to sell a stolen military Humvee and a 105-mm howitzer.

Maj. Tom Earnhardt, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, said Cross and Niewoit are in the process of separating from the Army for "patterns of misconduct," but he declined to elaborate. He said all indications point to the pair acting alone.