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Press Release

Five Members of Portsmouth Based Heroin & Fentanyl Trafficking Organization Plead Guilty

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

NORFOLK, Va. – Nathaniel Powell, 33, Ernest Cross, 38, Detuan Gordon, 25, Valerie Wilson, 55, and Marque Wilson, 33, all of Portsmouth, have pleaded guilty to charges related to their role in a heroin and fentanyl drug trafficking conspiracy.

According to court records, from March 2012 through July 2016, members of this organization conspired to manufacture and distribute heroin in excess of 1,000 grams. The group’s primary source of supply for heroin and fentanyl came from Baltimore.  The narcotics were transported to Hampton Roads and repackaged using a hydraulic press machine and gel capsules for retail sales. This organization further disseminated their drugs and served as a source of supply for other individuals in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

On Dec. 22, 2015, police executed a search warrant on Gordon’s residence and recovered opiates, scales, drug paraphernalia, and firearms.  During the conspiracy Gordon, a convicted felon, possessed an AK-47-style rifle as well as a Taurus handgun. When Gordon was arrested on June 8, police recovered nearly $50,000 in cash, a firearm, heroin, and fentanyl.  Valerie Wilson was arrested on June 2, in Moyock, North Carolina, after selling five grams of heroin. Wilson’s six-year-old grandson was in her vehicle when she distributed the heroin. 

Two members of the group led police on two separate vehicle pursuits. Marque Wilson, who was in possession of heroin and cocaine, was arrested on June 10, after attempting to elude police.  Powell led police on a high speed chase through residential neighborhoods of Portsmouth before he crashed into another driver.  Powell, who is a paraplegic from a gunshot wound, used a cane to drive during the pursuit. Police recovered seven grams of fentanyl from Powell. After Powell’s arrest, he threatened to kill an individual he believed was working with police.



Date of Guilty Plea

Date of Sentencing

Nathaniel Powell

October 20

Feb. 17, 2017

Ernest Cross

September 23

Jan. 20, 2017

Detuan Gordon

September 20

Jan. 26, 2017

Valerie Wilson

September 16

Jan. 20, 2017

Marque Wilson

October 18

Jan. 27, 2017


A federal grand jury charged the Portsmouth based heroin and fentanyl drug trafficking group with a 20 count indictment on July 20. Charges included, but were not limited to, Conspiracy to Manufacture, Distribute, and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin, Distribution of Heroin and Fentanyl, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime.

Gordon faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life.  Cross and Powell face mandatory minimum sentences of five years and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. The Wilsons face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mark R. Herring, Attorney General of Virginia; Karl C. Colder, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, Kelvin L. Wright, Chief of the Chesapeake Police Department, and Tonya D. Chapman, Chief of the Portsmouth Police Department, made the announcement after Powell’s guilty plea was accepted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard.  Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Butler, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph E. DePadilla and Andrew C. Bosse prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:16-cr-97.

Updated October 20, 2016

Drug Trafficking