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Heroin dealer sentenced to prison

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Monday, July 22, 2019

A 21-year-old Elm City man recently was ordered to spend 13 years in federal prison for dealing heroin, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement.

Rodney Durrell Thomas, also known as "Lil Bruh," was sentenced after appearing before federal District Judge James C. Dever III in Raleigh and pleading guilty in mid-February to a list of drug-related charges, the statement said.

Thomas is also going to have to serve five years of supervised release after he completes his sentence.

The statement said Thomas received an enhanced sentence because he frequently possessed firearms in connection with a drug conspiracy and because he fled in a reckless manner from law enforcement.

Thomas was prosecuted as a result of an operation called "Tri County Hook Up," which focused on the trafficking of heroin and cocaine in Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties. A number of people subsequently were arrested on outstanding federal and state charges.

Federal court documents show Thomas was named in an 11-count indictment charging him with being involved in a drug conspiracy from the start of August 2017 to the middle of June 2018.

The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said law enforcement recorded telephone calls proving Thomas discussed the conspiracy with co-defendants in the case and made arrangements for more drug transactions.

And the statement said Thomas sold 10 bricks of heroin each, which amounted to approximately 1,000 individual bags, on two occasions from his home in Elm City.

The statement said Thomas was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute approximately 3½ ounces or more of heroin, a quantity of marijuana and approximately an ounce or more of crack cocaine and a quantity of cocaine.

The statement also said Thomas was charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of approximately an ounce or more of crack cocaine and a quantity of cocaine.

State Public Safety records also show Thomas was becoming known to North Carolina’s judicial system.

The records show a conviction in February 2017 in Wilson County for possessing stolen goods and a conviction in March 2018 in Nash County for use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office also included who else has been sentenced during the past several months in the federal drug case involving Thomas. They are:

Michael Speight, 26, of Elm City, to five years imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release

Marcus Antwan Wiley, 29, also known as "Mark," also of Elm City, to four years and nine months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release

Travis Kwymaine Ruffin, 29, of Wilson, to four years and six months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.

Marquice Quashawn McCoy, 30, also known as “Shawn,” of Rocky Mount, to five years and 10 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.

De'Andre Anthony Lucas, 29, also known as “Man Man,” of Rocky Mount, to a year and three months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release

Shaquandra McAllister, 28, also known as “Quanna,” of Wilson, to three years and six months imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

The statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office also noted Wiley had already been on supervised release.

That was a result of a November 2009 federal conviction for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, committing armed bank robbery and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime.

That conviction was in connection with Wiley's role in the holdup of the BB&T in Elm City in December 2008.

The statement said Wiley, after admitting to his drug-related criminal activity, saw his supervised release revoked and also saw the federal court system add three more years and a month imprisonment.

That sentence is going to begin at the end of Wiley's sentence in the drug case.

The case is part of the Take Back North Carolina Initiative.

U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon, who announced the initiative, warned violent offenders and anyone selling illegal drugs — particularly opioids — to cease their behavior or prepare to suffer the consequences.