Suspected smugglers arrested

Published 11:28 am Monday, October 16, 2017

WINTON – Two men from out-of-state are behind bars here, both charged with allegedly attempting to deliver contraband to Rivers Correctional Institution.

Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hayes identified the men as 21-year-old Nikquan Eugene Cooper of Alexandria, VA and Otis Artemio Ransom, 21, of Washington, DC.


Both were charged with one felony count each of conspiracy, and one misdemeanor count each of simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Each was placed in the Hertford County Jail under a $25,000 secured bond. They were scheduled to make their initial appearance on Oct. 11 in Hertford County District Court.

Hayes said his department has experienced issues in the past with individuals attempting to smuggle contraband, particularly cellphones, into Rivers Correctional, a privately owned and operated prison that accepts inmates from the Washington, DC area.

The Sheriff added that Cooper and Ransom are suspected of trying to smuggle in cell phones to the prison, but were caught prior to that taking place.

“(North Carolina Highway Patrol) Trooper A.S. Genao performed a traffic stop on a vehicle Tuesday night in the area of US 13 / NC 11 and the Shortcut Road after that vehicle made an improper lane change,” Hayes said. “Trooper Genao said he noted the smell of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle and also noticed several cell phones in the vehicle, some in plain view and others we later found wrapped in cellophane and covered with grass clippings that appeared to be glued in place.”


Trooper Genao, according to Hayes, contacted the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and several officers responded, to include the Sheriff, Sgt. Tyrone Ruffin, Captain Jesse Fennell, Deputy Kendall Swain, and Investigator Chase Oliver.

“Through our investigation at the scene, to include a search of the vehicle, we believe the cell phones recovered were destined to be delivered in some fashion to Rivers Correctional,” Hayes stated. “We are continuing our investigation to see if there is anyone inside the prison that may be connected to this and other instances of contraband being delivered to that facility.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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