Former fugitive sentenced to 25 years in prison for heroin, gun crimes

Posted at 1:09 PM, Jul 16, 2015
and last updated 2016-01-06 14:58:25-05

Franklin, Va. - Phillip Jerome Murphy was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

Murphy, 41, pleaded guilty to federal drug, gang and weapons charges on September 23.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Franklin Police captured the wanted fugitive back in July 2015.

Federal, state and local authorities converged on Murphy's house on Morton Street in Franklin on July 16 in an effort to locate him, but they came up short. He was found later at a relative's home in Southampton County.

Phillip Murphy

He made an appearance in federal court on July 17, 2015 for arraignment on charges of Distribution of 100+ grams of Heroin, Distribution of Heroin, Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of a Stolen Firearm.

Court records reveal Murphy's long history of selling and dealing drugs for more than 20 years, dating back to 1994.

Investigators say Murphy, along with co-conspirator Collie Sanks, was controlling the drug trafficking and distribution within a street gang known as the Red Stone Rydahs, which operates primarily in Franklin and Emporia.

The gang reportedly distributed drugs throughout  Franklin, Emporia, Smithfield, and other areas surrounding Southampton County.

Confidential sources were able to make controlled purchases of heroin from Murphy numerous times during the investigation. The first purchase occurred in March of 2014.

During one occasion, Murphy sold an M-4 assault rifle to an undercover Virginia State Police employee. During the arrangement of the deal, Murphy allegedly told another confidential source that he needed to sell the weapon quickly because it was stolen. After the purchase was made, it was discovered that the gun had been stolen in January of 2014 from Franklin and had previously crossed state lines.

The gang's drug activity had been under investigation since 2012.