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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Twelve Sentenced This Week for Roles in Heroin Trafficking Enterprise

Defendants Convicted on Both Sides of Baltimore-Front Royal Heroin Pipeline

Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – Twelve of the thirteen co-conspirators convicted of trafficking more than 1,000 grams of heroin from Baltimore to Front Royal over the course of three years were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.

“The heroin and opioid epidemic is one of the most challenging law-enforcement issues in the Western District of Virginia, and the problem is particularly acute in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.  Fortunately, our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners are highly skilled and experienced in dismantling drug-trafficking organizations like this one,” United States Attorney Cullen said today. “We will devote all available resources to investigating and prosecuting these important cases.”

The twelve individuals sentenced this week were convicted of being involved in a multi-year trafficking enterprise that brought significant amounts of heroin from Baltimore to Front Royal.

Wednesday in U.S. District Court, four defendants convicted for their roles in the enterprise were sentenced. Nicole Renae McNall, 25, of Front Royal was sentenced to 96 months in prison. Sheldon Berry, 27, was sentenced to 168 months. Brittani Monique O’Bannion, 23, of Front Royal, was sentenced to 60 months. Megan Marie McNall, 24, of Front Royal, was sentenced to 108 months. The hearing for Earl Christopher Magwood, 42, was continued and rescheduled for next month.                                                                                                          

Earlier this week, eight defendants were sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy. On Tuesday, three defendants from Front Royal were sentenced to federal prison time. Da’Shawn Edwards was sentenced to 168 months, Keon Hackley was sentenced to 36 months and Tiara Baily was sentenced to 16 months. Two Baltimore men were also sentenced Tuesday. Antwan Cottman received 180 months in prison and Antwan Lucas was sentenced to 108 months. On Monday, three members of the conspiracy were sentenced. Adrian Edwards was sentenced to 190 months in prison. Randall Freeman and Alisha Stocking were each sentenced to 48 months.

According to information and evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Donald R. Wolthuis, the conspiracy began as early as 2013 with the goal of trafficking heroin from Baltimore to the Front Royal area. On average, members of the conspiracy distributed one kilogram of heroin per week during the life of the conspiracy, which operated between 2013 and April 2016.

To insulate the identity of the sellers from the identity of the buyers, heroin customers in Virginia contacted a phone number in Maryland, either by voice call or text, which was controlled by conspiracy members and was known only as the “Chris phone.” “Chris” was not a real person, but rather was a fake name associated with the phone number customers contacted to place heroin orders. At the time an order was placed, customers were provided a street address in Baltimore where their order was to be picked up. When a customer arrived at the pre-determined address, the customer’s car was approached by other members of the conspiracy, a drug transaction took place, and the Virginia customers drove back to Front Royal. No socializing or small talk took place between the customer in the car and the seller on the street. The Virginia customers made these trips every day, sometimes multiple times per day. Once they returned to Front Royal, the customers used the heroin and sold it to others. 

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Winchester Office, the Front Royal Office of the Virginia State Police Northwest Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Frederick, Maryland Sheriff’s Office, the Loudoun County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office and the Howard County, Maryland, Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Donald R. Wolthuis is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Updated April 19, 2018