Virginia Beach man trafficked pot from California, prosecutors say

Jamel Stokes -- Southside Daily/Courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail
Jamel Stokes — Southside Daily/Courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail

NORFOLK — A Virginia Beach man was sentenced here Tuesday to three years in prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana from California to Virginia and his involvement in laundering the marijuana proceeds.

According to court documents, Jamel Stokes, 26, was involved with several others in trafficking large quantities of marijuana from California to Virginia.

Stokes would receive the shipments of marijuana from California at two Virginia Beach addresses, and then break down the shipments into smaller packages for further distribution in the Hampton Roads area, federal prosecutors said.

Stokes also took part in laundering the proceeds from the sale of the marijuana shipments by depositing the money into various bank accounts in Virginia, and on the same day someone in California would withdraw the money from those same accounts.

Stokes also hid money in boxes and shipped them to California. Stokes was caught when a large shipment of marijuana was interdicted at the post office.

A delivery of the parcel was made to the address on the shipping label. When a “co-conspirator” picked the box up, he was arrested and told law enforcement Stokes had been paying him to pick up boxes full of marijuana and to deliver them to various addresses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Between the two Virginia Beach addresses Stokes used to take delivery of marijuana, a total of 47 parcels were delivered from Northern California with a total weight of “50 kilograms or more but less than 100 kilograms of marijuana,” prosecutors said.

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John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.