NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A federal jury convicted two men late yesterday on charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl, and possession with intent to distribute heroin.
“Armed drug traffickers pose serious threats to the safety of our communities,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The tactical acumen and flexible execution demonstrated by the joint task force in this case is testament to its keen leadership and depth of experience. Through quick thinking, decisive action and fluid coordination, a simple surveillance operation suddenly escalated into an unexpected but successful vehicle interdiction and drug trafficking arrest. This investigation and prosecution would not have been possible absent the critical partnerships we have formed with our local and federal law enforcement partners. My thanks to Homeland Security Investigations, and the Hampton and Newport News Police Departments for their outstanding work on this case.”
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Terrence Dennis 37, of Norfolk, and Michael Guess, 36, of Newport News, caught the attention of law enforcement when they walked into an ongoing surveillance operation by a Homeland Security Investigations Task Force. After the tactical decision was made to observe Guess (driver) and Dennis (passenger), Guess failed to obey a stop sign, and agents attempted a traffic stop for the minor infraction. Guess accelerated and led the task force on a dangerous high-speed pursuit through Hampton and Newport News while his co-conspirator Dennis threw a loaded firearm and 33 grams of heroin out of the passenger window. Once detained, additional controlled substances and evidence of narcotics distribution was seized. The loaded firearm and heroin jettisoned during the chase were also recovered.
“Narcotics. Guns. A high-speed chase. This case had all the makings of suspenseful movie plot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t part of a fictional storyline; it is the grim reality our agents and task force officers face right here in Hampton Roads,” said Michael K. Lamonea, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Norfolk and Richmond offices. “I commend the task force for its quick actions. The arrests of these two individuals helped law enforcement remove lethal narcotics, as well as a firearm from our community.”
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Dennis, who was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years to life imprisonment consecutive to any additional sentence imposed for his multiple convictions when sentenced on June 19. Guess faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on June 20. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Michael K. Lamonea, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Norfolk, Terry L. Sult, Chief of Hampton Police Division, and Steve R. Drew, Chief of Newport News Police, made the announcement after Chief U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard J. Zlotnick and Peter G. Osyf are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:18-cr-72.
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on March 12, 2019.