As the world watches the violent civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland, that spells trouble for that city’s embattled police department, another news report on Thursday doesn’t help to quell the anti-police rhetoric of people such as Rev. Al Sharpton, the Black Panthers, the decidedly radical left commentators and others more than happy to capitalize on the death of a black young man named Freddie Gray. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), at least 13 active-duty and retired law enforcement officers from North Carolina were immediately arrested when their indictments were unsealed Thursday morning.
The arrests were part of a federal undercover drug and weapons trafficking sting that began when an anonymous informant notified North Carolina’s Halifax County Sheriff’s Office sometime in 2013.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s two-year operation resulted in illegal drug and weapons charges against seven current or former Northampton County deputy sheriffs, three North Carolina state corrections officers, a Northampton County police and emergency dispatcher, a Windsor police officer, a former Weldon police officer, and a corrections officer for the Virginia State Department of Corrections.
Top federal prosecutors as well as state and federal law enforcement agents during a press conference provided details of what they described to reporters as a conspiracy by the suspects who attempted to transport large quantities of both cocaine and heroin through North Carolina to other states on the east coast.
“Corruption in local government – especially involving law enforcement – threatens the social compact that binds our communities together,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie G. Caldwell. “When the officer with a gun and a badge is no different from the trafficker peddling drugs in the street, we all suffer. That is why the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in North Carolina and throughout the country are determined to root out corruption, wherever and in whatever form it may be found,” said Caldwell.
Besides the 13 current and former cops, two civilians are also accused and were also arrested with the other suspects on Thursday morning they were picked up at the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport and at a nearby warehouse.
The group at the airport were expecting to move a shipment of drugs, prosecutors said, and those at the warehouse were expecting to pick up a shipment in the highly organized crime enterprise. Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) John Strong, who heads of the FBI office in North Carolina, asserted that the accused cops displayed “shock and disbelief” when they were suddenly being treated as criminals.
SAIC Strong said that the FBI special agents didn’t inform the Northampton’s sheriff’s office and the Windsor police department about the investigation until Thursday morning in order to maintain security of the counter-narcotics operation. “Deputies and correctional officers used their law enforcement positions to line their own pockets,” Strong said. “They vowed to protect and serve but instead were motivated by pure greed and tarnished the badges they were trusted to carry.”
The accused are listed by the Department of Justice on its press statement and includes: Northampton County deputies Ikeisha Jacobs, 32; Jason Boone, 29; Jimmy Pair Jr., 48; Curtis Boone, 31; and Thomas Jefferson Allen II, 37; Former Northampton County deputies Wardie Vincent Jr., 35, son of the former sheriff there, and Cory Jackson, 43; Northampton County 911 dispatcher Tosha Dailey, 31; N.C.Department of Public Safety corrections officers Adrienne Moody, 39; Alaina Sue-kam-ling, 27; and Kavon Phillips, 25; Windsor police officer Antonio Tillmon, 31; Virginia Department of Corrections officers Lann Tjuan Clanton, 36; a former Weldon police officer, and Alphonso Ponton, 42; and Raleigh resident Crystal Pierce, 31.
The press statement described how the undercover investigators used federal money and fake drugs to bring the allegedly corrupt to justice. “All 15 defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances and conspiring to use and carry firearms during and in relation to drug trafficking offenses. Other charges against certain defendants include attempted extortion, attempted possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, money laundering, federal programs bribery and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking offenses,” according to the DOJ statement.