Former head of Wayne County drug unit pleads guilty to drug & fraud charges

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – The former head of a drug unit for one Eastern Carolina sheriff’s office has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy, along with wire and mail fraud charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Michael Cox pled guilty in Wilmington to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, and marijuana. Cox also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit procurement wire and mail fraud.

The 49-year-old Cox headed up the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office drug unit until his retirement in 2018.

The feds say when he was a deputy, Cox helped drug traffickers in Wayne County evade charges. Even after his retirement, the man facilitated drug buys for other people, according to a news release.

Authorities say Cox also schemed with a high-ranking deputy to steer contracts for upfits of sheriff’s office vehicles to a business owned by him. Major Christopher Worth, who retired last October after his indictment, is still awaiting trial in that bid-rigging scheme.

When sentenced, Cox faces up to 40 years in federal prison on the charges.