Local gang leader sentenced to 8 years

Published 10:41 am Saturday, January 30, 2016

On Wednesday, an Emporia man was sentenced to 96 months in prison for his role in conspiracy to distribute heroin and his firearms trafficking activities. According to court documents, Collie “Sonnie Black” Rashad Sanks, 37, was the highest-ranking member of the Red Stone Rydahs, a Bloods street gang that operated in Franklin and Emporia.



On July 16, 2015, Sanks was arrested on charges of distribution of 100 grams or more of heroin and distribution of heroin. That same day another member of the Red Stone Rydahs, Phillip “Philly” Murphy, 41, of Franklin, was arrested in Southampton County on similar charges.

Sanks pleaded guilty on Sept. 17, and Murphy pleaded guilty on Sept. 22.

On Jan. 6, Murphy was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking case.

Both defendants had been part of an investigation led by the FBI.

Sanks and Murphy began distributing significant amounts of heroin to Franklin, Emporia, Smithfield and Southampton County.

As much as twice a month, they would travel to New York to purchase bulk quantities of heroin and then travel back to distribute it. They sold the drug themselves, as well as employing other individuals to assist in the distribution activities.

“Court documents revealed that Sanks was heavily involved in firearms trafficking on behalf of the Red Stone Rydahs,” said the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia in a press release. “On two occasions, he sold a total of 11 firearms — including high-caliber rifles, assault rifles and pump-action shotguns — as well as a ballistic associated with Sanks, law enforcement recovered four different types of ammunition, an AK-47 assault rifle and three other firearms, in addition to heroin, marijuana, narcotics packaging materials and gang paraphernalia.”