Two former App State students from OBX enter guilty plea in college drug ring bust

[Appalachian State University photo]

Two men from the Outer Banks who were previously enrolled at Appalachian State University have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the bust of a massive drug ring on multiple college campuses in North Carolina.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported Kyle Parrish Beckner, 22, of Boone, and Devin James McDonald, 23, of Kill Devil Hills, were among nearly two dozen current and former students charged last year for allegedly being part of the illegal drug ring centered around multiple fraternity houses at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke, and Greek organizations at Appalachian State.

McDonald was indicted by a federal grand jury in July on a charge of felony conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina, in October 2019 investigators made a controlled purchase of one ounce of cocaine from McDonald, after he was identified by a cooperating source as someone who distributed cocaine to other App State students.

Beckner, a native of Dare County, was charged with distribution of LSD and use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony.

According to the press release, last summer a cooperating defendant identified an App State student and member of the Delta Chi fraternity member as a known distributor of controlled substances.

In August 2020, Beckner allegedly sold 1,000 doses of LSD to the informant for $3,000 in the parking lot of a Chapel Hill restaurant.

On Wednesday, McDonald pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and Beckner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute LSD.

Both are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on Sept. 1 for sentencing. McDonald faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Beckner faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and at least a $1 million fine.

Cheryl Andrews, attorney for McDonald, told the Winston-Salem Journal that McDonald is a fine young man. He has no previous criminal record.

“This is an unfortunate situation that happened in his life, and we look forward to resolving it,” she said Friday. “He has the support of his friends and his family.”

Andrews said McDonald is still seeking to complete his college degree.

Chad Axford, Beckner’s attorney, did not immediately return a message Friday from the newspaper seeking comment.

Federal investigators found the drug ring moved thousands of pounds of marijuana, several hundred kilograms of cocaine, LSD, Molly, mushrooms, steroids, human growth hormones, Xanax and other narcotics. The deals totaled more than $1.5 million.

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