Pitt County Sheriff's Office Evidence Room Revealed

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Nearly every day authorities in the east arrest someone on drug related charges, but what happens to the drugs and other evidence seized during a drug bust?

WITN's Lindsey Fry went behind the scenes in Pitt County to find out how the evidence is handled.

Most people never get a chance to see the evidence room unless you're in law enforcement.

"These are a temporary storage units, so these lockers would get full with all sorts of cases, different types. It's not just narcotics. In that case either I would be called or one of my on-call personnel would have to come down here after hours and make space. We have had that happen on several occasions," said Sgt. Wallace Moore with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Moore says the evidence is later collected and the drugs are analyzed and tested by experts. Forensic chemist Mike Kuzemko says all kinds of drugs cam through here last year and every year.

"I had a lot of pills. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, metheodone, and I had a lot of cocaine beginning sold the year. Then towards the end of 2012, I started seeing a lot of heroin," said Kuzemko.

In January, during a Pitt County Sheriff's drug investigation, officers arrested 34-year-old Maurice Whichard of Greenville who was found with 3500 doses of heroin.

Once all the testing is complete, it's repackaged and brought to the evidence room, where it awaits its first court appearance.

"It can stay in there for years. It depends on how long the case is in court.," said Sgt. Moore.

He says the court then has to authorize when the drug evidence can be disposed of.

"We get 100 maybe 150 pounds and we actually transport it to an off- site location to have it disposed of in what is referred to as a drug terminator," said Moore.

Moore says weapons are also collected, broken into pieces and disposed of, but what about the money seized? When Whichard was arrested in January, police say, they seized thousands of dollars in cash which Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks says is later turned over to the sheriff's office.

"We can use it to hire additional personnel for drug investigation. We can use it to pay additional employees, we can use it for overtime. Basically, anything to do with an investigation of a drug case, we can use it for. This year, for example, I used it to buy 9 patrol cars," said Sheriff Elks.

Sheriff Elks says in 2012 they seized and kept $112,000. So far this year, he says, they have over $56,000, but he says his main interest isn't the money.

"We're looking to cleaning up the streets and getting all the drug dealers off the streets. The little players as well as the big players," said Sheriff Elks.

A mission that will keep the lab busy and the evidence room full.

Sgt. Moore says, the drug burns are done at a landfill about once every 2-3 months. He says, it takes 5-6 hours to burn 150 pounds of drugs.