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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two More Defendants Who Sold ‘Gravel’ Sentenced in Federal Court

Joshua Hughes and Brandon Whited to Spend Time in Federal Prison

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced an additional two sentences in the ongoing prosecution of a 22-member conspiracy that brought a controlled substance analogue substance to Southwest Virginia from as far away as China.

Joshua Hughes, 28, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 3.3 kilograms of alpha-PVP, a controlled substance analogue, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Yesterday in the United States District Court in Abingdon, Hughes was sentenced to 132 months in federal prison.

Brandon Keith Whited, 38, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 2 kilograms of alpha-PVP and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Today in District Court, Whited was sentenced to 159 months in federal prison.  

“The defendants prosecuted as part of this investigation continue to receive lengthy, but just, punishments that show how serious and dangerous controlled substance analogues are to the health and safety of the public,” United States Attorney Fishwick said today. “We will continue to work to slow the flow of these substances into our communities.”

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa, the defendants, and others members of the conspiracy, disturbed alpha-PVP, a controlled substance analogue, in Southwest Virginia between 2012 and 2015. Members of the conspiracy placed orders of the powder form of alpha-PVP from distributors based in Florida and China and had these items shipped to residential addresses in Wise, Virginia. The conspirators would retrieve the packages and distribute the contents to mid-and-low level dealers in and around Wise, Virginia for distribution to alpha-PVP users.

Members of the conspiracy also regularly transported the hard form of alpha-PVP, commonly known as “Gravel” from suppliers in North Carolina and Tennessee to Wise, Virginia for distribution. As part of the conspiracy, members would break the larger quantities of “Gravel” into smaller amounts for sale to drug users, typically .5 to 1 gram amounts.

The investigation of the case was conducted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, the Virginia State Police, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Norton Police Department, the Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office, the Sullivan County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office, the Coeburn Police Department, the Clintwood Police Department and the Wise Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa prosecuted the case for the United States.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 23, 2016