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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


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United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Virginia 
United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen

Joint release from Attorney General Mark Herring and U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen...

Two Defendants Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy Investigation
Defendants Trafficked Oxycodone into Virginia from Georgia

Abingdon, VIRGINIA –Two members of a drug distribution organization that trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and other drugs from Georgia into Southwest Virginia were sentenced recently in federal court in Abingdon on drug conspiracy charges. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring made the announcement today.


“Oxycodone is a highly addictive and dangerous drug," United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “The statistics are staggering: More people die each year from overdose deaths than from other causes, including vehicle crashes. My office will continue to aggressively prosecute those who traffic oxycodone, while also working with the Courts and community stakeholders through education, outreach, and specialty Court dockets to address the opioid epidemic in our communities."


“Oxycodone remains a highly abused drug throughout the Commonwealth and, in particular, Southwest Virginia. We work diligently with our law enforcement partners to crack down on those who distribute prescription drugs in the Commonwealth," Virginia Attorney General Herring said today. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners in connection with this investigation and will continue to aggressively prosecute those who endanger the lives of our citizens."


In a hearing last week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Audrea Augusta Woodward, 50, of Big Stone Gap, Va., was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison. Woodward previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing oxycodone.


On March 12, 2019, Paul Thomas Jones, 26, of Pennington Gap, Va., was sentenced to serve 18 months in federal prison. Jones previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing oxycodone.


In all, 11 individuals have been charged as part of this drug trafficking conspiracy. Two defendants were sentenced earlier this year for their roles in the conspiracy, with three others scheduled for sentencing in the coming months. The two lead defendants are scheduled for trial in September 2019.


According to court records and evidence presented at hearings in these matters by Special Assistant United States Attorney and Virginia Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, these defendants conspired to traffic oxycodone from sources in Watkinsville, Athens, and Augusta, Georgia, into Southwest Virginia for redistribution. The organization operated primarily in Lee and Wise counties from November 2016 through March 1, 2018. Arrests on March 1, 2018, resulted in the seizure of approximately 197 grams of crystal ice methamphetamine, in addition to heroin, cocaine, morphine, and oxycodone. Woodward agreed that she was responsible for conspiring to distribute, possessing with the intent to distribute, and actually distributing 1,200 dose units of oxycodone during the conspiracy. Jones accepted responsibility for nearly 381 dose units of oxycodone tablets, which he obtained and distributed during the course of this conspiracy.


The investigation of the case was conducted by the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, Virginia State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Lee County Sheriff's Office, Scott County Sheriff's Office, Wise County Sheriff's Office, Norton Police Department, Big Stone Gap Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals also assisted with the execution of search warrants and arrests connected with this case. Special Assistant United States Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Virginia Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Attorney General's Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, prosecuted the case for the United States.