The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia reported on Dec. 11 that two men accused of distributing methamphetamine in Scott, Wise and Lee Counties have been convicted. A federal jury returned guilty verdicts on charges including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute following a four-day trial held in Abingdon. The date of the sentencing hearing for the 44-year-old and 37-year-old Pennington Gap residents was not announced.
The men were indicted along with 19 other suspects in May. One of the indicted individuals is due to go on trial in April 2020. The other 18 defendants have chosen to enter into negotiated plea agreements. During the trial, U.S. attorneys convinced the jury that the two men had been involved for several years in the acquisition and distribution of large quantities of illegal drugs by showing them documents that included social media messages. This evidence was supported by witness testimony.
The 44-year-old man faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years on the drug counts and a further 5 years on a weapons charge. The 37-year-old man faces at least 10 years in a federal prison. The investigation that led to the indictments was conducted by the Bureau or Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force and the Norton Police Department.
When their clients are taken into custody during federal narcotics sweeps, experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise them to think carefully before refusing the plea offers made by U.S. attorneys. This is because federal prosecutors rarely lose in court when a dozen or more co-conspirators have agreed to cooperate in return for leniency. If defendants are willing to negotiate, defense lawyers may be able to secure significant concessions from U.S. attorneys in return for a quick and successful resolution.
Source: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, Pair of Drug Conspirators Convicted Following Jury Trial in Abingdon, Press release, Dec. 11, 2019