Photo Gallery | Man connected to death of Brunswick Co. K-9 officer sentenced to jail
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A man who was connected to the death of Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Viper was sentenced to more than 11 years of jail on Thursday.
On July 16, 2011, an agent ordered a kilogram of cocaine from 33-year-old Jamie Gonzalez-Lopez, of Mexico, according to a news release from United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker. Gonzalez-Lopez and 28-year-old Braulio Yanez Marin delivered the cocaine to an area in Ash. Gonzalez-Lopez reportedly hid the cocaine in a field and was arrested.
K-9 Viper and his handler Deputy Jared Zeller were sent to the field to locate the cocaine. Viper ripped open the package, which weighed 1,162 grams and had a street value of more than $100,000. Viper was exposed to the drug and had a severe reaction. He was taken to an emergency veterinarian hospital in Southport and pronounced dead the following morning.
The investigation revealed that Gonzalez-Lopez was responsible for distributing more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, the news release stated.
Gonzalaz-Lopez was sentenced in federal court by United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan to 11 years, 3 months after pleading guilty to possession with the intent to distribute, distributing 500 grams or more of cocaine, and possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.
A memorial service was held for Viper shortly after his death. Dozens of K-9 teams supported the deputy who lost his four-legged partner. "It's an amazing thing that we had together, and I'm gonna miss it tremendously," said Zeller.
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