A North Carolina pastor and his son were arrested Sunday for allegedly turning their church that had been shuttered since the COVID-19 pandemic into a drug house that manufactured marijuana with the intent to traffic the drug.
Investigators said in a news release that on Sunday, they arrested Pastor Josh Price, 50, and his son, Matthew, 28, and charged them with manufacturing marijuana, trafficking in marijuana, possession with intent to sell and deliver THC wax, and three counts of felony maintaining a dwelling, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and conspiracy to traffic marijuana.
Police said they received information that Josh Price, who lives in the Fellowship Hall behind South Side Baptist Church in Lexington, was manufacturing marijuana at the shuttered church.
When a team of investigators from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division and the Special Investigations Division searched the property on Sunday, they seized approximately 12 pounds of marijuana, 32 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 41 THC vape pens, 20 marijuana plants and about 2 pounds of tetrahydrocannabinol wax.
Former church member Mike Lambeth told WSAZ that he had tried to warn the church about Price when he first came to the church about three years ago but they didn’t listen.
“This guy, I met him one time, and our spirits didn’t bear witness at all,” Lambeth said. “And I did not think he was a pastor, and I told a lot of the members there, ‘Y’all better watch out for him.’”
One Christian neighbor of the church was so upset by the discovery, they told news outlet WBTV that they hope the pastor and his son “burn in Hell” for what they did.
“I really hope they burn in Hell,” the neighbor, who was not named, said. “I’m a Christian; that is so, so, wrong. It’s wrong. It’s wrong anywhere but especially in God’s house.”
Leon Little, who also previously attended the church in better days with his parents who are now buried there, said he, too, tried to ring the alarm about Price when he came to the church.
"They'll just have to stand before God and answer for it one day, just like we all will have to answer for things," Little told WFMY NEWS2.
Even though Josh Price told police that the church has been closed since COVID-19 began, Little alleges that it was the pastor who chose to shutter the church after membership had dwindled to five members, which included four members of Price’s family.
Little further explained that he and his family left the church several years ago when the congregation chose Price over his father to lead them.
"Right when he took the church, they started seeing things. Yeah, I've talked to several members, and they all feel the same way," Little, who now wants the alleged drug traffickers off the church’s property, said.
"I want my mom and dad to have a burial place that's not drug related and you finding stuff out like this is sad to know that your parents are buried there,” he said. “You've got all this type of stuff going on behind the scenes.”
Both Price and his son are set to answer the charges on July 25 in Davidson County District Court.