Police: Deering man sold drugs, guns from storefront in his home
A 76-year-old Deering man who the police said has been selling drugs and guns from an illegal storefront built in his home is now facing a string of felony charges.
Robert “Burton” Johnson was arrested Wednesday following an eight-month investigation by the Deering and Weare police, who worked on the case together after officers in Weare received a tip about Johnson’s business venture. Weare police Sgt. Joseph Kelley said undercover officers ultimately made several purchases of drugs and firearms at Johnson’s 162 Camp Road home.
“You have a man that’s offering guns as though he’s a dealer,” Kelley said. “We’re talking about rifles, handguns, et cetera. And you know, it’s fair to say he’s selling them with drugs. I’m sure you can read between the lines here that there isn’t a lot of checking going on.”
Kelley said Johnson is a former firearms dealer who was last licensed in the 1990s. He was unsure how long the man has been selling drugs and guns out of his home but said it appears to have been going on for quite some time.
Kelley said Johnson has been “pretty well known” for his business in the community and built a display area in his home to run the operation. Many of the 57 guns officers seized from Johnson’s home had tags on them displaying sale prices, he said.
For his drug operation, Johnson was selling mostly pain medication, said Kelley, who added that the police seized pills, pain patches and about $3,100 in cash from the home.
“For us it’s huge, not so much in the fact that it’s a large-scale drug investigation, although there were drugs involved in this for sure,” Kelley said. “It’s just the fact that here are drugs and guns being sold to anybody. It’s just, you come in and give money and get a gun and drugs.”
Johnson is facing three counts of sale of a controlled drug and three counts of sale of a firearm without a license, all Class B felonies. He was arraigned yesterday in Hillsboro’s district court where bail was set at $57,000 cash. A probable cause hearing, where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for the case to be sent to a grand jury, will be held May 9.