NORFOLK — A local man admitted Tuesday to trafficking heroin while armed.
Vernon Lewis Petway, 39, pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug-trafficking crime.
He faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of life. Petway is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 15.
According to court documents, Petway, a felon, was caught in possession of roughly 97 grams of heroin and a firearm after transporting the heroin by bus from New York City into Norfolk.
The case is part of “Operation Sand Dragon,” a joint operation run by the Norfolk Police Department with assistance from the DEA, ATF, Homeland Security Investigations and the Chesapeake Police Department.
After an 8-month-long investigation, authorities arrested 44 suspects for their roles in distributing drugs. Twelve of the suspects were involved in gang activity, which was a major focus of the investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
During the investigation, law enforcement recovered roughly 11 ounces of heroin, three pounds of cocaine, three pounds of marijuana, 24 ecstasy pills, and nine grams of methamphetamine.
Federal authorities said the total street value of the drugs was more than $190,000. Law enforcement also recovered 12 firearms and more than $85,000 in cash.