Feds: Kickboxing gym used in local drug trafficking operation


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Members of a local family and several associates are facing indictments for a drug trafficking conspiracy that authorities say included the use of a local gym.

The Department of Justice Eastern District of Virginia says 37-year-old Alex Burnett is charged with being the leader of a criminal organization that operated on the Peninsula. This organization included several people, including Burnett’s father and mother, Robert and Shirley Burnett.

FBI agents and local police arrested several people involved in late October. The FBI used tactics that included criminal informants, GPS trackers, and surveillance before making the arrests.

Court paperwork showed Alex Burnett was a member of the Bloods Gang and claimed to have inherited the “family business” after his brother, Rico Burnett, was incarcerated for attempted capital murder of a police officer.

Burnett allegedly conspired with four others to distribute heroin, cocaine, cocaine base and marijuana: Charles McMillan, Charles Bailey, Jr., Mario Barrett and Jordan Davis.

McMillan entered a guilty plea in Newport News Federal Court on Thursday, Nov. 1. He is scheduled for sentencing in February.

The 9Round gym at Peninsula Town Center — which was owned by Alex and Shirley Burnett — was used for drug deals, authorities say. 9Round Fitness owns hundreds gyms nationwide and is mainly focused on kickboxing.

A federal affidavit said the gym was used in the storage and facilitation of cocaine or heroin no less than five times, and that Alex made a statement suggesting he was trafficking no less than eight kilos of cocaine over a month. Confidential sources reported that Alex would routinely have customers come there to complete drug transactions, the affidavit said.

When a WAVY crew went by, the door at the gym was locked and a sign read, “Closed until further notice.” A representative of 9Round said online, “We are not able to comment on this situation.”

WAVY News left a message with Alex’s attorney.

There is a Facebook page for the Hampton 9Round gym. However, the location is no longer listed on official 9Round website.

The Burnetts, along with Eleanora Paronuzzi and Ada Rodriguez, are charged with laundering money made from this drug trafficking.

Authorities say all nine people alleged to have been involved in the operation were indicted this week by a grand jury.

Alex Burnett37, HamptonContinuing Criminal Enterprise (Life)
Conspiracy to Distribute Drugs (Life)Conspiracy to Launder Money (20 years)Distribution of Heroin (20 years)Felon in Possession of Firearm (10 Years)
Shirley Burnett62, CarrolltonConspiracy to Launder Money (20 years)
Robert Burnett64, CarrolltonConspiracy to Launder Money (20 years)
Jordan Davis24, WilliamsburgConspiracy to Distribute Drugs (Life)
Distribution of Cocaine Base (20 years)Felon in Possession of Firearm (10 years)
Charles McMillan30, Newport NewsConspiracy to Distribute Drugs (Life)
Distribution of Cocaine Base (20 years)
Charles Bailey, Jr.54, Newport NewsConspiracy to Distribute Drugs (Life)
Distribution of Cocaine Base (20 years)
Eleanora Paronuzzi36, Newport NewsConspiracy to Launder Money (20 years)
Ada Rodriguez36, Jacksonvillle, FloridaConspiracy to Launder Money (20 years)
Mario Barrett41, HamptonConspiracy to Distribute Drugs (Life)
Distribution of Heroin (20 years)Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana (5 years)Felon in Possession of Firearm (10 years)Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking (Life)

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