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South Hill trio charged in gun running probe

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Shawn Archie Sr., left, and Tara Simmons-Archie / January 30, 2019
A South Hill couple and their son were arrested last week by New Jersey law enforcement officers on charges related to gun trafficking.

Tara Simmons-Archie, her husband Shawn Archie Sr. and son Shawn Archie Jr. were arrested in Deptford Township, Gloucester County, N.J., Jan. 22 following an undercover operation that focused on illegal transport and sale of high-capacity firearms over a span of several months. The couple and their son are alleged to have transported the weapons to Gloucester County from points in Virginia and North Carolina.

In November, Simmons-Archie spent three days reviewing local ballots and elections results as a temporary member of the Mecklenburg County Electoral Board. She was appointed to the post by the Circuit Court to fill a vacancy created by the passing of long-time board chair Doris Hester. Simmons-Archie is no longer serving in that position and was no longer a member of the electoral board at the time of her arrest.

The arrest was announced Wednesday by the Gloucester County prosecutor Charles “Chuck” Fiore.

A police search of the couple’s 2017 Chevrolet Impala uncovered multiple high-powered rifles including a 9 mm Carbine, 10 MM Carbine, and AR-15 assault rifle. In addition, police seized several ammunition clips for AR-15 and AR-22 rifles and high-capacity handguns.

Several other weapons, including two tactical AR-15 shotguns, an AR-22 rifle and a 9 mm handgun, were seized after they were brought into New Jersey during what investigators say were earlier trips to the state in the fall of 2018 by Archie Sr. and during which he is said to have sold tactical rifles and shotguns to an undercover officer.

Archie Sr. has been charged with five counts of transporting weapons into the state for unlawful sale, one count of unlawful possession of an assault weapon, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon or rifle without identification, and one count of certain persons not to have weapons. He was remanded to the Salem County Correctional Facility without bond.

Tara Simmons-Archie was charged with one count of transporting firearms and one count of possession of a firearm without a permit. Archie Jr. was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport firearms. Both were released pending their court appearance. No date has been set for that appearance.

According to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Archie Sr. has an extensive criminal record including charges of abduction, possession of a firearm by a felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony from 2006. Court records show that he pleaded guilty to the firearms and abduction charges in August 2007 in Brunswick County Circuit Court and was sentenced to three years in prison for use of the firearm in the commission of a felony, and received an active sentence of two years on the possession of a firearms charge, and an active sentence of two years and three months on the abduction charge.

In a public statement released following the arrests, Fiore extended his “appreciation to all of the Gloucester County Police personnel and partnering law enforcement agencies involved in this important investigation, as their cooperation and teamwork has made it possible for these multiple, high-capacity weapons to be kept off the street and out of the wrong hands, where they could have inflicted severe harm on the community.”

This case remains under investigation.

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