Prisoner pleads guilty for role in federal drug conspiracy
Inmate is latest to plead guilty out of nearly two dozen defendants indicted after long-term narcotics investigation
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – A Charleston man pleaded guilty today for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Velarian S. Carter, 38, entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, more than 280 grams of crack, and more than 100 grams of heroin. Carter is one of 23 defendants indicted in June 2017 after a comprehensive investigation of drug trafficking in Southern West Virginia.
Carter admitted that between October 2016 and June 28, 2017, he took part in a drug trafficking conspiracy with multiple participants while he was incarcerated. The drug trafficking organization was responsible for distributing cocaine, crack, and heroin in and around Raleigh County. During the course of the conspiracy, Carter admitted to directing other participants outside of the jail to cook cocaine into crack and to distribute controlled substances in and around the Southern West Virginia. He also admitted that in some instances, he directed what prices should be charged for the drugs and how the money collected through the distribution of controlled substances should be distributed.
Carter faces at least 20 years and up to life in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 17, 2018. In a separate prosecution, Carter was sentenced in February 2017 to 20 years in federal prison for his role in a California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy.
Other individuals implicated as a result of this drug investigation have entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing. Cheyenne Fragale and Macon Fragale, two brothers from Boomer in Fayette County, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, a quantity of oxycodone, and a quantity of heroin. They both face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison when they are sentenced on March 14, 2018. Dominic Copney, of Beckley, previously entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin. He faces a mandatory minimum of five and up to 40 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 17, 2018.
This prosecution was made possible through the cooperative efforts of several investigating agencies. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Beckley Police Department, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Postal Inspection Service provided assistance throughout the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Boggess is in charge of these prosecutions. The plea hearing was held before Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.
These cases are 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. 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.
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