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Press Release

Convicted Felon Sentenced to Prison for Heroin and Gun Crimes

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

NORFOLK, Va. – A Norfolk man was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for trafficking heroin while armed.

According to court documents, Vernon Lewis Petway, 39, was caught in possession of roughly 97 grams of heroin and a firearm after transporting the heroin by bus from New York City to Norfolk. At the time of the arrest Petway was on supervision for previous federal drug and gun convictions, and as a convicted felon is prohibited from carrying firearms.

The case is part of Operation Sand Dragon, a joint operation run by the Norfolk Police Department with assistance from the DEA, ATF, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Chesapeake Police Department. After an eight-month-long investigation, law enforcement arrested 44 suspects for their roles in distributing drugs. Twelve of the suspects were involved in gang activity, which was a major focus of the investigation. During the investigation, law enforcement recovered roughly 11 ounces of heroin, 3 pounds of cocaine, 3 pounds of marijuana, 24 ecstasy pills, and 9 grams of methamphetamine. The total street value of the drugs was over $190,000. Law enforcement also recovered 12 firearms and over $85,000 in cash.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Scott W. Hoernke, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, and Larry D. Boone, Chief of Norfolk Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen. Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of a renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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. 2:18-cr-34.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated December 6, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses