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Justice News

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

United States Attorneys Recognize Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force

BIG STONE GAP, VIRGINIA -- Timothy J. Heaphy, United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and William Killian, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, held a ceremony yesterday, in Wise, Virginia, to recognize the contributions of the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force and its officers, in the investigation of the Rodney Mitchell Drug Trafficking Organization.

The Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, comprised of law enforcement officers from the Virginia State Police, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Big Stone Gap Police Department, and the Wise Police Department, was recognized by both United States Attorney’s Offices for assisting in a joint investigation by federal, state and local authorities from Tennessee and Virginia which culminated in the federal prosecution of Rodney Mitchell and twenty-two others in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Greeneville and the prosecution of nine individuals in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Big Stone Gap.

The Rodney Mitchell Drug Trafficking Organization was responsible for the distribution of large quantities of cocaine, prescription pain medication and marijuana in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee and had sources of supply in Detroit and Florida. More than 80 individuals were prosecuted as a result of the investigation in state and federal courts in Tennessee and Virginia.
“The officers involved with this task force put aside jurisdictional and agency boundaries to bring Rodney Mitchell and his co-conspirators to justice,” US Attorney Heaphy said today. “Impactful prosecutions like these help make our communities safer and send a powerful message about the benefits of law enforcement cooperation. I thank all the investigators who contributed to this important result.”

"I am very proud of the cooperative efforts of the investigators from the numerous local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Tennessee and Virginia. Their hard work resulted in these charges and guilty pleas of members of one of the largest drug conspiracies in east Tennessee," stated U.S. Attorney Bill Killian.

Agencies involved in the investigation included the Southwest Virginia Drug Tas Force, Tennessee Second Judicial Drug Task Force, Sullivan County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Sullivan County, Tennessee District Attorney’s Office, and the Wise County, Virginia Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

Updated April 14, 2015