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Press Release

Detroit Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization

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

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Jashawn William Lawson, also known as “Nitty,” 23, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded guilty today to aiding and abetting possession with the intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine. Lawson admitted to his role in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl in the Southern District of West Virginia.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on November 15, 2023, law enforcement officers arrested Lawson and searched his Highlawn Avenue residence in Huntington. Lawson admitted that he and other individuals used the residence to store and distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl. Officers seized methamphetamine, fentanyl, a Landor Arms Canyon Arms 12-gauge shotgun, a Walther P22 .22-caliber pistol equipped with a silencer, a Kel-Tec PMR-30 .22-caliber pistol and various rounds of ammunition. Lawson admitted that he and other individuals possessed the firearms and intended to sell the controlled substances seized during the search.

Lawson further admitted that he participated in the DTO with others from at least April 2023 through November 2023.  Lawson’s participation included selling a total of approximately 808.6 grams of methamphetamine on three occasions between April 13, 2023 and July 13, 2023. Lawson also sold approximately 2.9 grams of fentanyl during the July 13, 2023 transaction.

On August 28, 2023, Lawson was a passenger in a vehicle driven by co-defendant Christopher Anthony O'Dell when a law enforcement officer conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle in St. Albans. During the traffic stop, the officer located and seized approximately 51 grams of fentanyl in the vehicle and $4,910 on Lawson’s person. Lawson admitted that he received the seized money from selling methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Lawson is scheduled to be sentenced on August 12, 2024, and faces a mandatory minimum of  five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years of supervised release, and a $5 million fine.

O'Dell, 39, of Hurricane, pleaded guilty on March 18, 2024 to distribution of quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl and awaits sentencing.

Lawson and O'Dell are among 27 individuals indicted in a 53-count indictment that charges the defendants with distributing methamphetamine and fentanyl transported from Detroit, Michigan, in Huntington and other locations within the Southern District of West Virginia.

Lawson and O'Dell are also among 20 defendants who have pleaded guilty in the main case. One other of the 27 indicted individuals pleaded guilty to a related offense in a separate case. The indictment against the remaining defendants is pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), the West Virginia State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. MDENT is composed of the Charleston Police Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Nitro Police Department, the St. Albans Police Department and the South Charleston Police Department.

United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph F. Adams and Stephanie Taylor are prosecuting the case.

The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:23-cr-180. 



Updated April 16, 2024

Drug Trafficking