Federal prosecutors have charged four men of drug-related offenses involving heroin trafficking in five counties in Northern Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Each of them allegedly sold over 1,000 grams of heroin. One of them was also charged with two federal firearms charges -- possession of a firearm despite a previous felony conviction and having a gun to use in conjunction with drug sales.
In addition to heroin, prosecutors assert that the defendants were part of a drug ring that also distributed cocaine. The men were arrested in June and federal agents claimed that they were involved in drug sales in Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page, Warren, and Frederick counties.
Federal agents obtained search warrants and used them to examine both residences and vehicles. The investigation involved the use of confidential informants. Such informants frequently are themselves accused of crimes and may have pending charges. Some have been known to fabricate false accusations against other people in exchange for leniency from law enforcement and prosecutors in their own charges.
During the searches, quantities of heroin and cocaine were purportedly seized, along with cash, guns, and ammunition. A federal agent made a statement to the press claiming that one of the four defendants was the biggest source of crack cocaine in the western area of Virginia. Such statements, which often are based solely on speculation and conjecture rather than any objective and verifiable evidence, have a troublesome potential to taint the potential jury pool for trial. Criminal defense attorneys play an important role in trying to prevent the seating of jurors biased and predisposed towards conviction based on the reading of sensationalistic news accounts.
Source: NVDaily.com, "Defendant called largest heroin dealer in western Virginia" Joe Beck, Nov. 04, 2013