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Elm City man sentenced in tri-county drug trafficking ring

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A Wilson County man will spend 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges in a crackdown on what authorities describe as a regional drug trafficking ring.

Rodney Durrell “Lil Bruh” Thomas, 21, of Elm City, was sentenced Tuesday in a Raleigh federal courtroom, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III handed down the sentence, which includes five years of supervised release.

Thomas pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute heroin, marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine. He received sentencing enhancements for carrying guns in connection to the drug conspiracy and reckless endangerment for fleeing from law enforcement, according to prosecutors.

Investigators say Thomas sold 10 bricks of heroin — roughly 1,000 individual bags — from his Elm City home on two occasions and distributed drugs in Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties.

“As part of the investigation, law enforcement recorded telephone calls where Thomas discussed the drug conspiracy with his co-defendants and made arrangements for further drug transactions,” Don Connelly, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Thomas Higdon, said in a news release.

Six other defendants were sentenced in December, January, March and April for their alleged roles in the drug conspiracy.

• Michael Speight, 26, of Elm City, received a five-year sentence followed by three years of supervised release.

• Marcus Antwan “Mark” Wiley, 29, of Elm City, was sentenced to four years, nine months in prison and three years of supervised release. When he was arrested, Wiley was on supervised release after serving federal time on a 2009 bank robbery conviction. His term of supervision was revoked and he will serve an additional three years and one month after the drug conspiracy sentence elapses.

• Travis Kwymaine Ruffin, 29, of Wilson, received a four-year, six-month sentence and three years of supervised release.

• Marquice Quashawn McCoy, 30, of Rocky Mount, received a five-year, 10-month sentence followed by three years of supervised release.

• De’Andre Anthony Lucas, 29, of Rocky Mount, was sentenced to 15 months and three years of supervised release.

• Shaquandra McAllister, 28, of Wilson, received a three-year, six-month sentence and five years of post-release supervision.

Federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Probation Office worked with local law enforcement through the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in a regional investigation dubbed Tri-County Hook Up to charge those accused of trafficking drugs in Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties.

The Wilson, Rocky Mount, Tarboro, Spring Hope and Nashville police departments and the sheriffs’ offices in Nash and Edgecombe counties assisted in the operation, prosecutors said, along with State Bureau of Investigation agents and N.C. Department of Public Safety employees.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dena King prosecuted the cases under the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Take Back North Carolina Initiative, a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement aimed at reducing violent crime and drug trafficking.