Detroit Heroin Dealer Sentenced to More Than 24 Years in Federal Prison

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CHARLESTON, W.VA – Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston announced today that Curtis Watson, 52, of Detroit, Michigan, was sentenced to a total of 295 months in prison and five years of supervised release. He was previously convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to distribute heroin, using and carrying a firearm during the heroin conspiracy, and tampering with a witness.  Watson, also known as “LOW,” conspired with other drug traffickers from Detroit, Michigan and Charleston, West Virginia, to distribute in excess of 700 grams of heroin in the Southern District of West Virginia.

“This case is a testament to the hard work our law enforcement partners do every day to combat these deadly drugs from making it into our communities,” said Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston.  “I applaud the tremendous work of everyone in this case, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Nowles Heinrich, who tried this case with former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Saunders, and handled the sentencing hearing today.”

Watson supplied a residence in the Hernshaw area with a substantial amount of heroin, which would then be sold to drug addicts and dealers. Shortly after the conspiracy began, Watson was losing money and he enlisted other Detroit drug traffickers to travel to West Virginia and sell more heroin.  Watson would provide these Detroit drug dealers with firearms to protect the heroin.  Upwards of $40,000 was being made in a given day at this residence. One witness described the house similar to a fast-food restaurant. Another witness described selling drugs out of the house from sun up to sunset.

Watson’s conspiracy ended on November  17, 2017, when the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department responded to the Hernshaw residence because a person fatally overdosed from drugs purchased at the location.  Prior to law enforcement arriving, Watson dropped off more heroin and a Hi-Point firearm, and left the area.


After a federal grand jury indicted Watson on November 27, 2018, his first jury trial was scheduled on August 12, 2019.  On the day the trial was set to begin, a cooperating witness was threatened by Watson because the witness was cooperating with the government. When Watson saw the witness at the federal courthouse, he yelled at the witness, “I got you! I got you!” After the encounter with Watson, the witness became concerned for their safety and was afraid to testify.   Subsequently, the federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Watson on September 18, 2019, adding a charge for tampering with a witness.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. 119 Drug and Violent Crime Task Force,  the West Virginia State Police, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department and the Marmet Police Department conducted the investigation.   United States District Judge Irene C. Berger imposed the sentence.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-00279.

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