Wanted man in custody on drug charges

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]
Smith -
Fennell -
Merritt -

Four people received felony drug charges following separate investigations by Clinton Police Department’s Neighborhood Improvement Team, with cases culminating over the weekend in arrests. One of the suspects arrested was wanted by the state for evading probation and parole supervision.

“The Neighborhood Improvement Team has been conducting multiple drug investigations throughout the city,” Clinton Police Chief Donald Edwards stated. “Some of these cases were initiated because of information provided by citizens. Whether it is received directly or through our anonymous tip lines, the information provided to us in invaluable.”

On Sunday, John Christopher Merritt, 25, of 60 Gill Lane, Clinton, was charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell, deliver methamphetamine, selling methamphetamine, delivering methamphetamine, possession with intent to manufacture heroin, selling heroin and delivering heroin.

Additionally, Merritt was charged with felony probation violation and failure to appear on counts of no operator’s license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A Clinton Police Department investigation of Merritt regarding the sale of heroin and methamphetamine was ongoing since mid-May. He was entered wanted on charges from Clinton Police Department and was taken into custody by Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies at a residence on Quail Run Lane, Clinton.

His bond was set at $100,500 secured.

According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Merritt absconded from probation and parole officials, his mugshot and big red letters “ABSCONDER” emblazoned across his NCDPS record. A note urges anyone who has any information on Merritt to contact the DPS Division of Adult Corrections.

Court records show that Merritt was convicted in December 2017 on charges of felony larceny and breaking and entering in Sampson. He was given a suspended sentence and two and a half years’ probation. that conviction was soon followed by another, in March 2018, for possessing stolen goods in Sampson, stemming from an offense just a month after his first conviction, records indicate.

He was given another suspended sentence and a year’s probation for the second conviction.

Both of the other two arrests came on Saturday and Friday, again the result of NIT investigations.

On Saturday, Terry Lynn Smith, 43, of 239 Oberry Lane, Dudley, was charged with two counts apiece of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver methamphetamine, selling methamphetamine and delivering methamphetamine. She was arrested at her residence and transported by police to the Sampson County Detention Center, where she was placed under $100,000 secured bond, according to reports.

Edwards said the investigation that resulted in Smith’s arrest had been ongoing since early May, “and is the first of several arrests expected from this investigation,” the police chief added.

On Friday, Stanley Ray Fennell, 66, of 220 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Clinton, was charged with trafficking cocaine, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for drugs and possession of firearm by felon.

He was placed under $15,000 secured bond for the offenses against him.

The arrest of Fennell was the result of a search warrant executed on Thursday, according to reports.

It was the second search warrant conducted by the Clinton Police Department in as many weeks that targeted the sale of drugs. This search warrant at the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard residence owned by Fennell stemmed from a probe that began in mid-June.

According to reports, nearly 90 grams of crack cocaine has been seized during the investigation.

Also charged in the investigation was Steven Prentice Williams, 25, of the same MLK Boulevard address. He was charged with trafficking cocaine and possession with the intent to sell and deliver cocaine. He turned himself in on Saturday and was given an unsecured bond of $50,000.

“I am very proud of the work both the uniform patrol and NIT have been performing. We appreciate all those citizens who have reached out to us and provided information that helps lead to these type arrests,” said Edwards. “We truly cannot do what we do without the help of our community and citizens.”



Three others arrested in probes; chief praises community, officers

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.