Multi-Agency Operation in Danville Concludes
With Sentencing of Final Federal Defendant
Tyrell Keoni Saunders is Seventh Federal Defendant to be Sentenced
DANVILLE, VIRGINIA – Officials from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies announced today the culmination of an investigation that took nearly 50 drug dealers off the streets of Danville.
Operation Clean Sweep was the result of collaborative work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Virginia State Police, the Danville Police Department, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, the Danville Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia Department of Corrections, the United States Office of Probation and Parole and the Danville City Sheriff’s Office.
During the course of the investigation, more than forty-nine individuals have been convicted in both state and federal court for distributing crack cocaine in and around the City of Danville. In addition, many of the defendants were also convicted on firearms charges.
Overall, of the 49 individuals charged as part of the operation, 42 were prosecuted by state officials. Those charges included more than 64 counts of drug and firearms related offenses. Seven defendants were prosecuted by federal officials. The federal charges included more than 20 counts of drug and firearms related offenses. Throughout the course of the investigation more than 20 firearms were seized.
“Operation Clean Sweep successfully took nearly 50 drug dealers and violent criminals off the streets of Danville,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “This operation was a success due to the cooperation of local, state and federal authorities. We must continue to join together in the Danville region if we are going to truly make the city safer. We must also augment our targeted enforcement work with support for effective crime prevention and offender reentry programs. Only a comprehensive approach will truly achieve public safety in Danville and elsewhere.”
“The conclusion of this extensive investigation and the accumulative prison time of more than 68 years among the defendants should send a clear message that criminal narcotic and gang activity will not be tolerated in Danville or any other region of the Commonwealth,” said Captain G.W. Austin, Jr., Commander of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement, we were able to eradicate a significant criminal network and validate our commitment to making our communities safer.”
“This intensive narcotics and gang enforcement project focused on addressing street-level narcotics activity and subsequent crimes of violence in the Danville area. Arrests, seizures and the identification of gang members was the result of the hard work and dedication of the many local, state and federal law enforcement partners who dedicated resources and personnel towards this important task,” said Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division.
“This successful law enforcement initiative between local, state and federal partners resulted in the prosecution of a number of armed narcotics traffickers and violent criminals. This operation has had a positive effect on the Danville community and efforts to aggressively investigate armed violent offenders in the Danville area will continue,” said Carl Vasilko, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Washington Field Division.
“This combined effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies was very effective, especially in addressing the street-level drug crime and violence involving members of one of Danville’s most violent gangs,” said Danville Police Chief Philip Broadfoot. “The lengthy federal sentences given to several defendants for drug and firearm offenses should be a wake-up call to all gang members.”
“The Danville Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office wishes to thank the dedicated work of all the law enforcement officers from the Virginia State Police, local police department, and all other agencies for providing the thousands of man hours necessary to make this operation a success,” Danville Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Newman said today. “We are dedicated to continue to work with all local, state, and federal agencies to take and keep these violent criminals off the streets.”
The following defendants were prosecuted federally by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia:
Parnell Moore, 24, of Danville, Va., convicted on multiple counts of distributing crack cocaine and multiple firearms offenses, sentenced to 420 months in federal prison.
Damien Courtney Fitzgerald, 27, of Danville, Va., convicted of distributing crack cocaine and a firearms offense, sentenced to 180 months in federal prison.
Demetrius Townes, 26, of Danville, Va., convicted of distributing crack cocaine and a firearms offense, sentenced to 106 months in federal prison.
Christopher Mayo, 27, of Danville, Va., convicted of a pair of firearms offenses, sentenced to 97 months in federal prison.
Ryan Neil Polk III, 27, of Danville, convicted of distributing crack cocaine, sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison.
Antonio Davis, 36, of Danville, Va., convicted of distributing crack cocaine, sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison.
Tyrell Keoni Saunders, 20, of Danville, Va., convicted of distributing crack cocaine and a firearms offense, sentenced to 240 months in federal prison.
Other agencies that assisted in the investigation include the United States Marshall’s Service, Virginia Probation and Parole, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Commission.