Tennessee Man Admits Distributing Fentanyl

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BECKLEY, W.Va. – Mario Lavonta Ward, 46, of Tennessee, pleaded guilty today to a federal drug crime.

According to court documents, Ward admitted that on June 8, 2021 he sold a quantity of fentanyl to a confidential informant for $200. The drug transaction occurred near Beckley. Ward also admitted that on this same date, officers executed a search warrant at the residence where the drug transaction had occurred.  During the execution of the search warrant, officers found additional quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, a firearm and $6,500 in cash.  The cash recovered included the $200 used by the confidential informant to purchase the fentanyl.  As part of the plea, Ward agreed to forfeit the money and the firearm and also admitted that he knew was prohibited from possessing the firearm due to a prior felony conviction.

Ward pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 27, 2022.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Unit.  The Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Unit is comprised of officers from the West Virginia State Police, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, and the Beckley Police Department.

United States District Judge Frank W. Volk presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Boggess is handling the prosecution.

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. 5:21-cr-00229.