Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Detroit Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Perry Johnson Jr., 29, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Johnson admitted to his role in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on or about November 28, 2022, Johnson conducted phone calls with co-conspirator Alexandria Jasmine Estep, during which he arranged to sell multiple pounds of methamphetamine to her. Johnson arranged for the methamphetamine to be delivered by third parties in a vehicle to Estep’s Charleston residence the following day.
Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $1 million fine.
Estep, 22, of Charleston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on November 15, 2023, and awaits sentencing. Johnson and Estep are among 32 individuals indicted as a result of Operation Smoke and Mirrors, a major drug trafficking investigation that has yielded the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history. Law enforcement seized well over 400 pounds of methamphetamine as well as 40 pounds of cocaine, 3 pounds of fentanyl, 19 firearms and $935,000 in cash.
Johnson, Estep and 22 other defendants have pleaded guilty. Indictments against the other defendants are pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and all 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 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia National Guard Counter Drug program, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Charleston Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office. 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.
Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy B. Wolfe is 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. 2:23-cr-33.
Updated November 30, 2023