CLAYTON — Clayton police arrested five people last week in a following a months-long undercover operation, including one man who is a suspect charged with murder in a New Year’s Eve shooting at the American Legion.
The police department has been conducting undercover operations over the past few months targeting drug dealers in town. Five people have been arrested so far in the investigation, and police are still trying to locate five more who are wanted on outstanding warrants.
• Marcellus Caryle Sinclair, 29, who has been charged with four counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver narcotics. Sinclair is already in custody of Johnston County jail for the attempted murder at the American Legion on New year’s Eve. His total bond is $300,000.
• Ronald Sinclair, 55, was charged with two counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver narcotics, and two counts of selling and delivering a Schedule VI controlled substance, two counts of maintaining a vehicle to sell a controlled substance. His bond is $70,000.
• Morris Leavette Stith, 43, was charged with one count of possession with intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance, and one count of trafficking opium. His bond is $75,000.
• Natasha Benet Merritt, 36, was charged with one count of possession with intent to sell and distribute a controlled substance, and one count of trafficking opium. She was also charged with one count of possession with intent to sell and distribute cocaine or “crack” and two counts of maintaining a vehicle to sell a controlled substance, as well as one count of conspiring to sell or deliver cocaine or “crack.” Her bond is $160,000.
• James Robinson, 17, was charged with five counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver a Schedule VI controlled substance and five counts of selling or delivering controlled sbustance. His bond is $100,000.
Clayton police chief Glen Allen said that in a drug round up, undercover officers identify individuals who are illegally selling drugs, and wait until the end of the “round-up” to arrest the suspects.
“We do not arrest the suspects right away because the undercdover operative may be endangered and the additional offenders would be alerted to our enforcement activities,” said Allen. He said when area drug dealers are arrested and jailed then there is likely to be a reduction in the sale of illegal drugs.
“Reducing or eliminating illegal drug sales makes for safer and healthier neighborhoods and a better quality of living for our community,” said Allen.
He also said that these operations are often initiated following complaints from neighborhood residents.
“We will continue being responsive to citizen concerns and will initiate such operations whenever we recognize a need for such an approach,” said Allen.