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Press Release

Federal Court Sentences Key Players in Large-Scale Meth Conspiracy

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

ABINGDON, Va.  – One of the main sources of supply in Southwest Virginia for a large-scale methamphetamine conspiracy, and one of the conspiracy’s dealers, were each sentenced to long federal prison terms this week.

Payton Lee Farris, 26, of Castlewood, Virginia, the supplier of approximately 40 kilograms of methamphetamine that was sold throughout Wise County and surrounding areas, was sentenced today to 13 years in prison. Farris pled guilty in March 2023 to conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine as well as distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.  

Jamie Lynn Johnson, 46, of Coeburn, Virginia, a repeat offender with multiple felony convictions who was widely known to trade methamphetamine in exchange for firearms, regularly purchased methamphetamine from Farris. Over a period of six months, Farris purchased one pound of methamphetamine for $4,000 every two days and then sold Johnson, his primary customer, one pound of methamphetamine every three days for $5,000.

Johnson was sentenced today to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty in January 2023 to conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

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

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force (consisting of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Norton Police Department, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, and the Virginia State Police), the Holston River Drug Task Force, and the Russell County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lena L. Busscher prosecuted the case.

Updated August 16, 2023