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Was Willie Nelson's Band Targeted?

By Laurin Penland

Wilmington, NC – Eyewitness accounts and released documents surrounding North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement's bust of Willie Nelson's band back in January, raise questions on whether or not the band was targeted.

Former director of the Duplin County Events Center John Vogt and his attorney Ken Thompson both say the night Willie Nelson's band was busted for moonshine and marijuana ALE agents walked straight back to the area where the band's bus was parked.

Emails show the ALE planned a special operation two weeks in advance in which they requested help from a narcotics unit. Interviews and testimony confirm the ALE named the bust "Operation on the Road Again."

Willie Nelson is a well known advocate for legalizing marijuana. But ALE agent Ted Carlton, who refused to be recorded for an interview, says the agency did not target Willie Nelson's band. The ALE also arrested eight people who were not in the band for open containers.

As a result of the ALE's raid, three band members pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and paid twenty five dollar fees. The charges against the other three members were dropped. The Duplin Events Center lost its major acts once word of the bust got out. Its staff has been fired, and its fate is now up in the air.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@whqr.org.