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Barney Harris, 40, was found dead inside a mobile home that authorities say was a stash house for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in the state.
Police say that Mr Harris and Steven Alexander Stewart had entered a mobile in Alamance County to wait for cartel member Alonso Beltran Lara to arrive so they could rob him of drugs and cash.
When he arrived Mr Lara refused to reveal where the stash was, so he was taken outside, bound by his feet and shot twice in the head “execution style”, according to Sheriff Terry Johnson.
“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 said.
After the shooting, other cartel members showed up and gunfire erupted, killing Mr Harris, who was found dead in a bedroom.
Mr Harris taught Spanish and was the head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball and track teams at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, North Carolina.
The sheriff said that Mr Harris, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, had been shot numerous times before law enforcement arrived.
“Mr Harris, he had a bulletproof vest on, but it did not work with the kind of ammunition that was used,” added Mr Johnson.
“He had gloves on, and he, they went there to do what was done except they did not think it was going to backfire on them.”
Mr Lara was alive when officers arrived at the scene but was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.
Mr Stewart, 32, was arrested later and charged with first-degree burglary and first-degree murder, according to the sheriff and is being held without bond at the Alamance County Detention Center.
Police say they found more than 30 shell casings at the scene, and that there were bullet holes in three other mobile homes.
A bag containing 1.2 kilos of cocaine and about $7,000 in cash also were found, the Sheriff’s Office said.
And Sheriff Johnson warned that the cartel may yet seek revenge for the death of Mr Lara.
“To this day as sheriff, I’ll tell you right now, I’m still worried about some retaliation, because the Mexican cartels, they don’t forget, they’re gonna pay back somebody, somewhere,” he said.
“And that concerns me greatly as sheriff of this county.”