Thirteen current and former law enforcement officers, a 911 dispatch operator, and a civilian were indicted this week for allegedly participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy. After a two-year undercover investigation, the FBI arrested all 15 alleged conspirators on Wednesday as they attempted to transport what they thought was a shipment of illegal narcotics. Several of the defendants have also been charged with money laundering, extortion, bribery, attempted possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and carrying firearms while trafficking drugs.
According to Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp, his office contacted the FBI after receiving numerous tips about police corruption taking place in Northampton County. The FBI began investigating these reports and launched a massive sting operation codenamed Operation Rockfish. Between 2013 and 2015, the FBI discovered numerous sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, a police officer, a 911 operator, and a civilian participating in trafficking multiple kilograms of cocaine and heroin.
“We received numerous tips and information from confidential informants. We follow up on every lead and every tip to make sure it’s credible,” stated Sheriff Tripp. “I have a sick feeling in my stomach right now because we all take an oath to defend and protect the state and federal constitution. We’re not supposed to break the law.”
According to the 54-count indictment, Virginia Department of Corrections officer Lann Tjuan Clanton used a firearm to commit extortion on August 22, 2013. A month later, Clanton attempted to possess with the intent to distribute over five kilos of cocaine. On November 7, 2013, Clanton and Deputy Ikeisha Jacobs of the Northampton Sheriff’s Office allegedly committed money laundering to conceal the profits from their drug trafficking activities. Deputy Jacobs reportedly accepted over $10,000 in bribes from undercover law enforcement agents posing as members of a drug trafficking organization.
On February 20, 2014, Clanton and Jacobs brought North Carolina Department of Public Safety correctional officer Adrienne Moody, Northampton Deputy Jason Boone, and former Northampton deputies Cory Jackson and Wardie Vincent Jr. into the drug trafficking conspiracy. After attempting to possess with the intent to distribute 5 or more kilos of cocaine, they allegedly committed money laundering while deputies Jacobs and Boone accepted bribes to protect drug shipments.
As business expanded over the next few months, several correctional officers, Northampton deputies, a 911 operator, a Windsor City police officer, and a civilian from Raleigh allegedly joined the conspiracy to traffic illegal narcotics along the East Coast. While committing bribery and attempting to buy and distribute multiple kilos of cocaine and heroin, many of these law enforcement officers were also reportedly carrying firearms in relation to their drug trafficking offenses.
On Wednesday, the FBI arrested two groups of alleged conspirators attempting to transport what they thought was a shipment of illicit narcotics from a small airport and at a warehouse in Rocky Mount. Included in the arrests were Virginia Department of Corrections officers Lann Clanton and Alphonso Ponton; North Carolina Department of Public Safety correctional officers Alaina Kamling, Adrienne Moody, and Kavon Phillips; Northampton deputies Ikeisha Jacobs, Thomas Jefferson Allen II, Curtis Boone, Jason Boone, and Jimmy Pair Jr.; former Northampton deputies Cory Jackson and Wardie Vincent Jr.; 911 operator Tosha Dailey; Windsor City police officer Antonio Tillmon; and Crystal Pierce of Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Corruption in local government—especially involving law enforcement—threatens the social compact that binds our communities together,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie 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.”
All 15 defendants have been charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances and conspiring to use and carry firearms during and in relation to drug trafficking offenses. Other charges included 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.