News and Press Releases

Petersburg Cocaine Dealer Sentenced to Life

March 26, 2010

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Eric Smith, 46, of Petersburg, Va., was sentenced today to life in prison for participating in a cocaine trafficking ring for nearly five years. Because Smith had been convicted for two prior drug offenses, he faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C., made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Jerome B. Friedman.

            “Eric Smith returned to dealing cocaine just months after getting out of prison – his second time,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “It’s clear that two long prison terms weren’t enough to keep him from trafficking drugs. Petersburg is safer now that he and his partners are off the streets.”

“The sentencing of Eric Smith to life in federal prison sends a strong message to recidivist criminals that they will be held accountable for their criminal actions,” said John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge for ICE, Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C. “ICE is committed to taking criminals who threaten the safety and security of our community off the streets.” 

            On Dec. 18, 2009, a federal jury convicted Smith of participating in a drug conspiracy that distributed more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as three counts of using a communication facility.   
            According to court documents and evidence introduced at trial, from the spring of 2004 to September 2009, Smith operated from Petersburg purchasing approximately 9.1 kilograms of cocaine and then re-distributing the cocaine to other dealers in Petersburg.  He also assisted in renting hotel rooms in Petersburg for co-conspirators and drove to Tidewater to retrieve additional cocaine.      

This case was investigated by ICE in conjunction with the Central Virginia Narcotics Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant United States Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

            A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on



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