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Press Release

Big Stone Gap Man to Serve Almost 9 Years in Prison for Meth Possession

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

ABINGDON, Va. – A Big Stone Gap, Virginia man, who fled from police during a traffic stop before ultimately being found with more than 50 grams of methamphetamine in his car, was sentenced last week to 107 months in federal prison.

Joshua Derrick Ellis Vanover, 35, pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced on March 15, 2024.

According to court documents, on February 26, 2023, officers with the Big Stone Gap Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Vanover, but he failed to stop and a high-speed pursuit ensued. When his vehicle finally came to a stop, Vanover was arrested, and a search of his person revealed a large bag of methamphetamine hidden inside his boxer shorts. A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed two large bags of methamphetamine, digital scales, several empty baggies, and syringes. Vanover admitted he fled from police because he knew he was wanted, had drugs on him, and did not want to go back to jail. Vanover’s serious and significant criminal history, including prior drug-related convictions, were aggravating factors considered at his sentencing hearing.   

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Craig B. Kailimai, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, made the announcement.

The ATF, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration all assisted throughout the course of the investigation.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Virginia Senior Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, prosecuted the case for the United States. 

Updated March 26, 2024

Drug Trafficking