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Press Release

Beckley man pleads guilty to role in California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
Defendant caught with nearly $40,000 cash during conspiracy investigation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Beckley man substantially involved in a California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy pleaded guilty today to a federal drug charge, announced Acting United States Attorney Carol Casto. Velarian Sylvester Carter, 37, entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

Carter admitted that from January 2015 to March 2016, he was involved in a drug conspiracy with multiple individuals that included the transportation and distribution of methamphetamine. He admitted that in January 2015, he conspired to have methamphetamine delivered from California to West Virginia. Carter also admitted to receiving methamphetamine from Daniel Ortiz-Rivera, a codefendant, until Ortiz-Rivera was arrested in Kansas in June 2015. Ortiz-Rivera’s arrest prompted Carter to begin purchasing drugs directly from Ortiz-Rivera’s supplier.

Carter further admitted that on March 21, 2016, a confidential informant working with law enforcement discussed the logistics of bringing drugs to Charleston with Carter, including cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin. That same day law enforcement stopped Carter and seized suspected drugs and approximately $28,000 in cash from the vehicle. Carter additionally admitted that on March 24, 2016, he arranged with confidential informants for the pickup of two pounds of methamphetamine in exchange for $12,000 in Charleston. On March 25, 2016, Carter arrived at the pre-arranged location and parked near the vehicle he was told contained methamphetamine. At that time law enforcement arrested Carter and seized $11,990 cash from Carter that he kept inside a Burger King bag.

Carter faces at least 10 years and up to life in federal prison when he is sentenced on October 13, 2016.

This prosecution is the result of a multi-agency investigation which led to an eight-count indictment implicating 14 defendants, including Carter. Carter’s codefendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. As part of this conspiracy, Ortiz-Rivera, a Mexican national, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2016. Additionally, two women used as mules to transport methamphetamine, Danielle Dessaray Estrada, of Los Angeles, and Kelly Newcomb, of Nevada, have pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime and are scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2016. 

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Charleston Police Department, and the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Updated July 12, 2016

Drug Trafficking