August 8, 2005
A victory for a Charlottesville neighborhood as guns and drugs are moved from the streets. It is a significant step forward in the war on drugs in Charlottesville. Eight men pled guilty today to a a series of drug conspiracy charges in Federal Court. For one Charlottesville neighborhood it means that these bad men are off their streets.
The dark streets of Charlottesville have been known to be a high crime section of the city.
"As soon as the sun went down, sometimes even before then, it was just wall-to-wall young men. Some who were involved in things that they shouldn't be doing," said Officer Web Stokes.
Officer Stokes has worked the Blue Ridge Commons area for three years. He was excited to hear about the guilty pleas of 8 known drug dealers from the area.
"All eight sold drugs in the Blue Ridge Commons public housing area on Prospect Avenue of Charlottesville. In 2003 and 2004, they were the most active...drug selling organization," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy.
These men were arrested back in December of 2004 and all plead guilty to distributing 50 or more grams of crack. Along with the drug charges, two plead guilty to weapons charges.
"Most of these defendants admitted to carrying guns to facilitate their drug business. Two of them actually plead guilty to incidents in which they used a gun to facilitate their drug business," said Heaphy.
With these convictions, Officer Stokes believes the city is one step closer to making these types of neighborhoods safer.
"And now that I know that these guys aren't coming back for a while, it's a great feeling," said Stokes.
"Hopefully when you arrest a group like this, it sends a message to people that this kind of thing will be taken seriously. Law enforcement is going to pay attention. [They are] going to focus resources on making your neighborhood safer and better," Heaphy said.
All 8 men face a minimum of 10 years in prison, and the potential to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Sentencing is set for November 1. The two men convicted of weapons charges face an additional 5-10 year penalty.