Teen charged with trafficking heroin in Rowan County

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(Left to right) Brandon Rumple, Joshua Branham, and Billy Barnhardt Jr.

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — A teenage boy was charged with trafficking heroin after deputies said they found more than 200 grams of “black tar” heroin in his apartment.

211 grams of “black tar” heroin, $5,000 in cash, and a loaded handgun were among the items seized during a search of 17-year-old Brandon Lee Rumple’s apartment at 504 Carter St. in Kannapolis, according to a news release from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said Rumple’s arrest was the culmination of an investigation into an increase in the sale of heroin in the Enochville region of Rowan County over the past several months.

The investigation originally netted several suspects for possessing small amounts of heroin, but detectives later determined that Rumple and another suspect, 42-year-old Billy Joe Barnhardt Jr., were two of the main suppliers.

Authorities on Tuesday obtained a search warrant for Barnhardt’s home at 505 Spring Garden Ave. in Kannapolis.  During the search, deputies said they found numerous items of paraphernalia related to the sale and use of heroin.

After Barnhardt’s arrest, deputies said they learned Rumple had started running his operation from the Concord area of Cabarrus County.  At the same time, Rumple was supplying a large portion of southern Rowan County, deputies said.

Warrants were obtained for the search of Rumple’s Kannapolis apartment, after which Rumple and a third suspect, Joshua Andrew Branham, 21, of China Grove, were both arrested.

Rumple and Branham were both charged with trafficking in heroin.  They each received $300,000 secured bonds at the Cabarrus County Jail.

Barnhardt was charged with possession with intent to sell heroin.  He was jailed under a $5,000 bond.