Georgia Man James Lee Cleghorne Sentenced for Role in Drug Conspiracy

(STL.News) – A Georgia man, who was part of a conspiracy that trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and other drugs from Georgia into Southwest Virginia, was sentenced last week to 120 months in federal prison, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced today.

James Lee Cleghorne, 39, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and alprazolam. Cleghorne was charged along with 10 other individuals as part of a broader trafficking conspiracy. Two defendants, Roy Lee Dykes and Leila Hector Dykes, went to trial in September 2019 and are set for sentencing on December 19, 2019.

“Methamphetamine trafficking and its effects have taken an enormous toll on far Southwest Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to identify and dismantle the drug-trafficking organizations responsible for bringing this terrible drug into our region, and hold their members accountable under federal law.”

“Our partnerships with local, state, and federal law enforcement are working to help keep the Commonwealth safer from the effects of methamphetamine,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring today. “We remain committed to aggressively prosecuting those who transport this dangerous drug into the Commonwealth.”

According to court documents, these defendants conspired to traffic a variety of controlled substances, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, morphine, oxycodone, and alprazolam, from sources in Watkinsville, Ga., into Southwest Virginia for redistribution. The organization operated primarily in Lee and Wise counties from November 2016 through March 1, 2018. Arrests on March 1, 2018, resulted in the seizure of approximately 11 ounces of crystal ice methamphetamine, in addition to heroin, cocaine, morphine, and oxycodone. Currency totaling approximately $14,000 was also seized.

The investigation stemmed from another drug trafficking conspiracy arising out of Lee County, Virginia, involving seven defendants, all of whom have been convicted and sentenced. In total, these investigations have led to the successful prosecution of 22 defendants and removed a conservative estimate of 3.5 pounds of crystal ice methamphetamine from the supply chain in Southwest Virginia.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, Virginia State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Numerous agencies assisted with search warrant executions and arrests on March 1, 2018, to include the Drug Enforcement Administration, Big Stone Gap Police Department, Lee, Wise, and Scott County Sheriff’s Departments, City of Norton Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals. Special Assistant United States Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Virginia Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Kari Munro are prosecuting this case for the United States.

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