NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - A task force dismantled a major drug trafficking ring on the Peninsula, resulting in more than two dozen arrests.
According to Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, 26 people were charged in federal court Wednesday and 23 were arrested. The operation, dubbed "Dragon's Lair," was conducted by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
MacBride said the dismantled ring stepped in to fill the demand after several other major heroin drug trafficking rings were busted.
"Since last October, at least four more people have overdosed on heroin and died on the Peninsula," MacBride said. "[Wednesday's] charges are part of an ongoing effort to go after those who traffic these highly addictive and dangerous drugs that threaten our communities."
Dragon's Lair targeted what Karl C. Colder, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington Field Division, said was an extremely violent cocaine and heroin trafficking organization that was in operation for more than a decade.
MacBride said the leader of the ring was believed to be 26-year-old Christopher Devon Barrett of Hampton. Barrett and 12 others were charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and one kilogram or more of heroin.
"The criminal complaint alleges that the group originally trafficked crack cocaine and firearms since at least 2005, but recently branched out into selling heroin as a result of the successful arrest and prosecution of Peninsula groups involved in distributing heroin," MacBride added.
Barrett was believed to be running the drug trafficking ring from the Colonial Landing Apartment complex in Hampton
Dominic Walker, 26, Andrea Barett, 24, and Jatadia S. Cook, 35, all of Newport News, are wanted on charges of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 or more grams of cocaine/heroin.
Others charged are as follows:
- Wayne Dominique Barrett, 24, of Newport News and Demetrius Deangelo Askew, 31, of Hampton are believed to be ‘lieutenants' in the drug ring.
- Donald Lorenzo Smith, 29, of Newport News, Jetadia Sirica Cook, 35, of Newport News, Stacy Ray Wise, 26, of Newport News, Darryl Michael Elliott, 46, of Hampton, Dominic Donte Walker, 26, of Hampton and Timothy Ray Alexander, 42, of Hampton are believed to be mid-level distributors.
- William Lewis Cofield, Sr., 58, of Hampton, Larry Daniel Stokes, 55, of Hampton and Warren Lester Tribble, 62, of Hampton are believed to be lower level distributors.
- Andrea Lanell Barrett, 24, of Newport News and the sister of Christopher Barrett, is believed to have brokered drug sales and stored firearms for the ring.
If convicted, each faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
In addition, another drug trafficking organization reportedly working alongside the Barrett ring was also dismantled. MacBride said 38-year-old Steven Lavonne Morris of Newport News was the leader of the cocaine drug trafficking ring.
The indictment claims Morris and Barrett conspired with each other to buy cocaine from the same sources in New York. Morris was arrested in February and found in possession of 900 grams of cocaine, MacBride added, and a search conducted at Morris' home found nearly $90,000 in U.S. currency.
Others charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 280 grams or more of crack cocaine alongside Morris are as follows:
- Jonathan Holguin, 24, of New York and Edwin Fernandez, 28, of New York are believed to be the cocaine suppliers.
- Federick Lavan Womack, 34, of Hampton is believed to be the ‘lieutenant' of the organization and traveled with Morris.
- Bradley Maurice Cephas, 38, of Newport News, James King Artis, II, 38, of Hampton, Aaron Evan Smith 31, of Yorktown, Christopher Michael Flowers, 40, of Hampton, Leroy Cornelius Bugg, 33, of Hampton and Arthur Gadsden, Jr., 41, of Newport News are believed to be mid-level distributors.
- James Vincent Taylor, 30, of Hampton, Alesha Dubrey Cousins, 30, of Hampton and Tinesha Monica Dubrey, 31, of Hampton are believed to be facilitators and couriers.
All face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The task force was led by the DEA Hampton Post of Duty and the investigation was conducted by the Newport News Police Department, the Newport News Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police and the Hampton Police Division.
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