Jury Convicts Final Two in Massive Lynchburg-based Drug Conspiracy

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A federal jury convicted the final two defendants in a massive Lynchburg-based drug conspiracy that trafficked cocaine from Texas and North Carolina into Lynchburg for distribution throughout Central Virginia.

Today, a jury convicted Ricky Donnell Abner, 44, and Charay Lamont Trent, 43, on drug conspiracy and weapons charges.  In addition, the ringleader,  Jermel “Jah” Storey, and 13 other individuals, including Antonio Edwards, Jason Ellison, Dashonna Farmer, Jason Hamlette, Steven Hughey, Jabari Johnson, Corey Johnson, James Mason, Adrian Mays, Christopher McDonald, Donnell Miller, Maggie Smith, and Juan Valdez, all pled guilty for their roles in the conspiracy.

Between January 2016 and January 2021, Storey supplied his complex network of drug dealers from his residence in Lynchburg by maintaining a steady stream of large amounts of narcotics from sources in Texas.  Even after moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, Storey continued his drug-dealing conspiracy by directing his co-conspirators to meet him in Charlotte to collect the drugs and then return to Lynchburg for sales throughout Central Virginia. 

“Today’s convictions bring to a close the final phase of a long term, multi-agency investigation and prosecution that will have a lasting impact on Central Virginia,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today.  “These drug traffickers were responsible for bringing kilograms of narcotics into the Lynchburg area and were implicated in other violent criminal activity.  The Lynchburg community is absolutely safer tonight due to the hard work and dedication of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies involved in this case.”

“Combating violent crime and narcotics distribution within our communities is a job we all take very seriously,” said Special Agent in Charge Patterson. “We will continue to leverage our resources and expertise as we work cohesively with our law enforcement and judicial partners to disrupt the illegal possession of firearms, distribution of narcotics and other acts of violence within our community.”

“The Lynchburg Police Department values its long-term relationships with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners,” said Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema.  “These convictions are just one example of the great work the women and men of these collective agencies perform on a daily basis.  We know drug activity directly ties into an increase in violent crime, and these convictions will have a significant impact on removing drugs from Lynchburg’s streets as well as keeping our residents healthy and safe.”

“These successful prosecutions are the product of a unified response to drug trafficking by federal and state law enforcement agencies.  The effects of this criminal activity are felt by those suffer from addiction to the poison these individuals spread into our communities.  Drug trafficking frequently is associated with violent crime.  This joint investigation, prosecution, and sentencing sends the message that there is a great price to pay for this illegal and dangerous activity.  Great thanks go to our partner agencies and especially to the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District for seeing these cases through the federal courts.” Bethany Harrison, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Lynchburg Police Department, the Virginia State Police’s Central Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force, and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean M. Welsh and Ronald M. Huber prosecuted the case.

The investigation is yet another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program which was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers.  Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises.  The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.