A high school basketball coach in North Carolina is dead after he allegedly attempted to steal from a local Sinaloa Cartel drug runner. Police in Alamance County say the coach went with another man to steal money and drugs.
Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson told reporters, “It was believed that this was during a home invasion for money and drugs,” WCNC NBC reported.
Union Academy basketball coach Barney Harris reportedly went to a house on April 8 with another man to carry out the home invasion robbery. During the attempted robbery, a shootout ensued leaving Harris mortally wounded.
Sheriff Johnson said the house was a drug-running operation for the Sinaloa Cartel. Harris, and his brother-in-law Steven Alexander Stewart, Jr., killed the drug runner shortly before the shootout began. Harris, who wore a ballistic vest, sustained multiple gunshot wounds. He died at the scene.
“I can tell you this right now. When we are dealing with the Mexican drug cartel, somebody’s probably going to die as a result of this right here, somewhere else,” the sheriff said. “And we did not want to put it out there until we could get a good grip of what’s going on here.”
ABC11 reported that Harris and Stewart arrived at the mobile home and found 18-year-old Alonso Beltran Lara inside. The duo allegedly interrogated the cartel member about the location of the stash. When he refused to answer, they shot him in the head, police investigators stated.
“And they were trying to find the money and drugs and apparently he didn’t give them the information to do that and he was technically close range, two bullets to the back of the head, he was executed,” Sheriff Johnson stated.
Investigators found multiple firearms at the scene and described the incident as “an old western shootout.” Stewart managed to escape and was later arrested by sheriff’s deputies. He faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.
Johnson said other mobile homes nearby were struck by gunfire but no one was injured.
“The neighbors are shooting and the bullets are hitting over here in our trailer,” a frightened neighbor said in a 911 call.
Retired FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker told the local NBC affiliate the Sinaloa Cartel has a “significant presence in Alamance County.” The county is located between Greensboro and Durham, North Carolina.
“The cartels are notorious for their violence,” Swecker continued. “They are probably the most violent criminal organization on the face of the earth.”
During the investigation, police seized multiple firearms, $7,000 in cash and approximately 1.2 kilograms of cocaine.
WSOC-TV9 reported the Union Academy hired Harris as a basketball coach in July 2017. He also taught Spanish and coached the varsity men’s track team.
Police are currently searching for Juan Daniel Salinas Lara in connection with the drug trafficking operation.