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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          March 13, 2012                   

DETROIT WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL DRUG CHARGE

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Shavona L. Starkling, 22, of Detroit, pleaded guilty today in federal court before United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of oxymorphone, also known as “Opana.”  Starkling admitted that on February 3, 2012, she traveled from Detroit, MI, accompanied by several known associates, to West Virginia to deliver oxymorphone pills to what proved to be a confidential informant working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Prior to traveling to West Virginia, an informant contacted one of the defendant’s associates to prearrange the illicit transaction.  As stipulated in the defendant’s plea agreement, the informant and the defendant’s associate agreed to meet at a predetermined location in Mineral Wells, Wood County, W.Va.  The informant participating in the transaction recognized the defendant and her associate as two individuals who had been involved in at least 10 illicit drug transactions in months prior.  Law enforcement officers from the Wood County Sheriff’s Department approached the vehicle and subsequently arrested the defendant and her associate and recovered approximately 300 pills.  Starkling waived her Miranda rights after being arrested and admitted that she had made between 10-15 trips from Detroit with her associate to deliver “Opana” pills to an informant.     

Starkling faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when she is sentenced on June 20, 2012. 

This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, remain committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney John Frail is in charge of the prosecution. 

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