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Press Release

Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Heroin and Possessing a Firearm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – A Henrico man pleaded guilty today to trafficking over 200 grams of heroin and for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. 

“Drug traffickers in possession of firearms pose a significant threat to our communities,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Investigating and prosecuting heroin and fentanyl trafficking crimes is a top priority of this office as we continue to battle this deadly epidemic. We are committed to our mission of public safety and will continue to aggressively pursue those who choose to endanger the safety of the communities we serve.”

According to court documents, Mervin Turner, 37, distributed heroin and fentanyl to a confidential source from his Henrico County residence on two separate occasions in 2018.  On August 28, 2018,   law enforcement executed a search warrant at Turner’s residence and recovered a semi-automatic pistol loaded with a 100-round drum magazine, more than 200 grams of heroin, two stand-up shop presses used to package heroin, marijuana, digital scales, and more than $9000. 

Turner pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. Turner faces a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and maximum penalty of 40 years in prison when sentenced on June 10. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Operation California Dreamin was investigated as part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, and William C. Smith, Interim Chief of Richmond Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik S. Siebert and Kenneth Simon are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:18-cr-158.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated March 7, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods