5 plead guilty to charges connected to Portsmouth-based drug ring

Clockwise from top left: Ernest Cross, Marque Wilson, Valerie Wilson, Nathaniel Powell
Clockwise from top left: Ernest Cross, Marque Wilson, Valerie Wilson, Nathaniel Powell

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Five people have pleaded guilty to charges related to a Portsmouth-based drug trafficking organization.

Nathaniel Powell, 33, Ernest Cross, 38, Detuan Gordon, 25, Valerie Wilson, 55, and Marque Wilson, 33, all of Portsmouth, admitted guilt for their respective roles in the heroin and fentanyl trafficking conspiracy.

Court records say from March 2012 through July 2016, members of the organization conspired to produce and distribute heroin in excess of 1,000 grams. Their primary supply source for heroin and fentanyl came from Baltimore. The drugs were brought to Hampton Roads, where they were repackaged using a hydraulic press machine and gel capsules before they were sold. The group then distributed the drugs further, serving as a source of supply for other dealers in the Outer Banks.

On December 22, 2015, police served a search warrant at Gordon’s home, where they found opiates, scales, drug paraphernalia and guns. Prosecutors say Gordon, a convicted felon, was in possession of an AK-47-style rifle and a Taurus handgun. When Gordon was arrested on June 8, officers recovered more than $50,000 in cash, a gun, heroin and fentanyl.

Valerie Wilson was arrested on June 2, in Moyock, North Carolina, after selling five grams of heroin. Prosecutors say Wilson’s 6-year-old grandson was in her car when she made the drug deal.

Two members of the trafficking organization led police on two separate pursuits.

Marque Wilson was arrested on June 10, after trying to run from the cops. He had heroin and cocaine in his possession.

Powell led officers on a high speed chase through Portsmouth neighborhoods before he crashed into another driver. Prosecutors say Powell, a paraplegic from a gunshot wound, used a cane to drive during the pursuit. Police discovered seven grams of fentanyl from him during his arrest. Afterwards, he threatened to kill someone he thought was working with the police.

On July 20, a federal grand jury charged the trafficking group with a 20-count indictment. Charges included conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin and fentanyl, felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Gordon faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life. Cross and Powell face mandatory minimum sentences of five years and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. The Wilsons face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

They will each be sentenced early next year.