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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Jamaican Man Pleads Guilty to Involvement in International Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy

RICHMOND, Va. – A Jamaican man pleaded guilty today to his role in a cocaine conspiracy involving the distribution and possession of 15 kilograms of cocaine on behalf of a Panamanian drug trafficking organization (DTO).

According to court documents, Oraine Lawson, 26, a citizen of Jamaica, served as a cocaine transporter for the DTO moving illegal narcotics within the United States. In February 2016, Lawson and a co-conspirator traveled from Brooklyn, New York to Charleston, South Carolina, to receive 15 kilograms of cocaine for domestic distribution on behalf of the DTO. On the same day, law enforcement intercepted 15 kilograms of cocaine on a commercial shipping vessel at the Port of Charleston sent by the DTO. The next day, Lawson and his co-conspirator obtained a bag containing 15 kilograms of cocaine in Charleston from a co-conspirator while under surveillance of law enforcement. Upon taking possession of the cocaine, Lawson boarded a commercial bus and law enforcement later executed a drug interdiction operation on the commercial bus on which Lawson was traveling. During the stop of the bus, law enforcement surveillance observed Lawson’s co-conspirator hide the bag containing the 15 kilograms of cocaine under a seat inside the bus. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement officers seized the bag containing the 15 kilograms of cocaine.      

Lawson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment when sentenced on November 2. 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.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Brotehrs Grim. 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.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Scott W. Hoernke, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik S. Siebert and Peter S. Duffey 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. 3:16-cr-108.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated August 6, 2018