Heroin ring leader sentenced to federal prison

Authorities seized more than 5,000 bindles of heroin from a car on Highway 125 outside Scotland Neck on August 16, 2017. (Photo: Halifax County Sheriff)

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Clarkton man and a woman from Raleigh will spend years in a federal prison for their role in trafficking heroin.

Terrence Corneilus Clyburn, 45, and Tara Finis Simmons, 48, went before a U.S. District judge Monday.

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Clyburn was sentenced at least 12 years, with five years of supervised release. Simmons was ordered jailed for more than two years, with five years of supervised release to follow.

The two were part of an eight-person organization that was uncovered by the Tar River Regional Drug Task Force in March 2016. The group was led by the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, and found Clyburn operating nearby in Scotland Neck, Tarboro and parts of Nash County.

The investigation found that the eight-person ring was responsible for trafficking 14.4 kilograms, or nearly 32 pounds, of heroin between 2012 and 2017 between North Carolina and Patterson, New Jersey. The release states they were responsible for distributing heroin into Nash, Edgecombe, and Halifax counties.

Others in the group were Tyshawn Rayvon Reams, Tony Ray Reams, Herbert Lamont Cherry, Charles Lee Wright, Patrick Direece Holiday and Mario Marelle Scott. The release says all have been convicted.

On Oct. 19, 2018, Clyburn pleaded guilty to a number of charges related to heroin and marijuana. Simmons pleaded guilty to heroin charges on April 8 of this year.

Cherry and Reams were caught on March 13, 2017 in Halifax County. They were in possession of 694 bricks of heroin packed in 34,722 bindles, the release says. The drugs, just over one pound at 470 grams, were found by a K-9 hidden in a false-bottom suitcase and a laundry bag in the trunk.

Simmons and Wright were caught Aug. 16, 2017, in Halifax County. Again, a K-9 searching found marijuana and heroin.

In each case, the traffic stops were the result of improper driving. Cherry was weaving between traffic lanes, and Simmons had been speeding. In the same of Simmons and Wright, a state trooper smelled marijuana upon coming in contact with the car’s occupants.

This case is part of the United States Attorney’s Office’s Take Back North Carolina Initiative.

The Nash County Sheriff’s office, Edgecombe Sheriff’s Office, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the Spring Hope Police Department, and the Tarboro Police Department investigated this case.