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Press Release

Washington man caught at Arlington mall pleads guilty to federal drug and firearms charges

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Washington man pled guilty today to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, on Sept. 6, 2023, while conducting vehicle checks at the Pentagon City Fashion Centre garage, an Arlington County Police officer observed a vehicle speeding through the garage before parking in a handicap spot without a handicap sticker. The vehicle was registered to Willie Gene Thorne, 29, who had at least one outstanding arrest warrant from Pennsylvania.

The officer inspected the vehicle and noticed a patch of aluminum foil with burn marks, a large bag of a white, powdery substance, two straws and a plastic bag containing several small baggies. The officer called for additional officers to assist.

When Thorne returned to his vehicle, he initially resisted arrest before complying when threatened with a taser. In his waistband, Thorne had a loaded, stolen 9mm handgun. A search of the vehicle revealed, among other items, a bag containing 91 grams of fentanyl, a digital scale, a razor blade, and approximately 84 baggies. Thorne also had a straw with residue and approximately 100 baggies in his pants pocket.

Thorne is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 6 and faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; and Charles “Andy” Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Carter is 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 are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:24-cr-123.


Press Officer

Updated June 14, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses