Portsmouth heroin traffickers face decades in prison

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Five Portsmouth residents face up to multiple decades in prison for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl in Hampton Roads, federal prosecutors in Norfolk said Thursday.

A federal grand jury in Portsmouth handed down a 20-count indictment against the ring on July 20, charging them with offenses such as conspiracy to manufacture and distribute heroin and fentanyl, distribution of heroin and fentanyl, and two weapons charges, according to a release from the Office of U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.

Three of the defendants pleaded guilty in September: Valerie Wilson, 55, Detuan Gordon, 25, and Ernest Cross, 38. A fourth, Marque Wilson, 33, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Nathaniel Powell, 33, pleaded guilty on Thursday.

Between March 2012 and July 2016, members of the drug ring conspired to make and distribute more than 1,000 grams of heroin. Their main heroin and fentanyl supplier was in Baltimore. In Hampton Roads, they repackaged the drugs for retail sale, distributed them and supplied people in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

When police officers searched Gordon’s home on Dec. 22, 2015, they found opiates, scales, drug paraphernalia and firearms. When they arrested him on June 8, they found almost $50,000 in cash, as well as heroin, fentanyl and a gun. He faces up to life in prison for his role in the trafficking operation.

Valerie Wilson was arrested on June 2, after selling five grams of heroin in Moycock, N.C. while her six year-old grandson was in her car.

Marque Wilson was arrested on June 10, after leading police on a high-speed chase through residential  Portsmouth and crashing into another driver.

Both Wilsons face up to 20 years each in prison.

Cross could be sentenced to up to 40 years.

Powell, who is paralyzed from a gunshot wound, also tried to evade police before arrest, using a cane to drive. He had seven grams of fentanyl when police apprehended him. After his arrest, he threatened to kill someone whom he believed to be cooperating with the police. He faces up to 40 years.

Cross, Gordon and the Wilsons will be sentenced in January 2017. Powell will be sentenced on Feb. 17, 2017.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.