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Final defendant in Va. drug case pleads guilty

A Virginia man has admitted to a drug possession with intent to distribute charge as well as bringing in excess of five pounds of the marijuana into the state. The man, 22, was part of a three-person team that ran the drug operation, which prosecutors characterized as one of the biggest marijuana cases ever in Richmond.

The drug operation and how the three men fit into it is rather complex. It began when one man devised a way to move large amounts of high-quality pot into Richmond from another state. That man, seeking to turn his attention to a legal business, sold the design of his scheme to the 22-year-old, according to authorities.

With ownership of the business model, the man then arranged to move 267 pounds of drugs into Virginia, according to officials, with the prosecutor reporting the man used a prepaid credit card to pay for the drugs.

The Richmond commonwealth's attorney said the man admitted to paying his roommate, who became the third defendant in the case, $5,000 to go to Richmond to gather the shipment. That pickup did not go smoothly, however, as a local university police investigator heard about the shipment. When the packing container containing the drugs arrived, the officer and his colleagues watched and waited.

They saw the roommate unlock the metal container and take out bags filled with marijuana, according to officials. They took the man into custody, then confiscated more than $600,000 in cash tied to the drug ring.

The roommate accepted a plea bargain for his role in the scheme and will be sentenced in November. The man who designed the scheme pleaded guilty and also will hear his sentence in November. The 22-year-old man also is set to be sentenced at a later date. Each defendant will serve at least four years, an official said.

By pleading guilty, the 22-year-old man avoided a drug-conspiracy charge, which prosecutors withdrew. Avoiding a trial and accepting a plea agreement or entering a guilty plea often can result in a lesser sentence than going to trial.

Source: Times-Dispatch, "Richmond man pleads guilty to role in large marijuana bust," Reed Williams, Sept. 29, 2012

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