Burke County Sheriff's Office


Narcotics Task Force

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The Burke County Narcotics Task Force was formed in July of 1990 as the result of a two-year federal grant. The Morganton Department of Public Safety applied for the grant with the goal to combine narcotics investigators from each Burke County law enforcement agency under the umbrella of a drug task force. This approach would enable law enforcement to have a more united effort in curbing drug problems in Burke County, since all reports concerning dealers and illegal trafficking would be funneled to only one agency.


Illegal guns seized during a search

Compressed marijuana seized in Burke County


The Task Force has proven very successful in their existence and has actually been used as a model unit by other counties wishing to train new narcotics investigators. Since their inception in 1990 to December, 2011, approximately $349,221,855.00 worth of illegal drugs has been confiscated by investigators, and $1,813,312.00 in U.S. currency has been seized. In addition, 303 vehicles and 507 weapons have been seized. The Task Force targets whole organizations on a federal level to get offenders longer sentences, this in turn has a larger impact on Burke County communities. The success of this highly trained unit has resulted in numerous career criminals being taken off of the streets with long prison stretches.


Methamphetamine lab located in Burke County

One pot method used to manufacture Methamphetamine

Marijuana located with assistance from NCSHP helicopters


The Task Force is governed a Board of Directors consisting of Sheriff Steve E. Whisenant and Burke County Manager Bryan Steen; Morganton Department of Public Safety Chief Mark Tolbert and City Manager Sally Sandy; Valdese Police Chief Jack Moss and Town Manager Jeff Morse (current chairman); and Drexel Police Chief Mike Swink.


In many instances, the North Carolina Department of Revenue places an excise tax, called the Unauthorized Substance Tax", on alleged drug dealers. The tax is due by any individual who possesses an unauthorized substance upon which the tax has not been paid, as evidenced by a stamp.


The Department of Revenue periodically holds an auction and sells the property of those who fail to pay the unauthorized substance tax.

Seventy-five percent of the money collected is returned to the local law enforcement agency whose investigation led to the assessment. The remaining twenty-five percent of the money collected is credited to the North

NC State Bureau of Investigation and BCNTF personnel dismantle a meth lab

Carolina General Fund.


To make a report concerning illegal drug activity, call the Burke County Narcotics Task Force at (828) 430-4221.