Previously convicted felon pleads guilty to trafficking heroin while armed

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NORFOLK, Va. – A Norfolk man who is a previously convicted felon pleaded guilty Tuesday to trafficking heroin while armed.

Vernon Lewis Petway

Court documents say 39-year-old Vernon Lewis Petway was caught possessing roughly 97 grams of heroin and a firearm after transporting the drugs by bus from New York City into Norfolk.

Petway’s case is part of Operation Sand Dragon, a joint operation run by the Norfolk Police Department with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Agency; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Homeland Security Investigations and the Chesapeake Police Department. Law enforcement officials arrested 44 suspects for distributing drugs during the eight month-long investigation.

During the investigation, authorities seized roughly 11 ounces of heroin, three pounds of cocaine, three pounds of marijuana, 24 ecstasy pills and nine grams of methamphetamine. The total street value of the drugs totaled more than $190,000.

Law enforcement also recovered 12 firearms and more than $85,000 in cash.

Petway pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. He faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced on November 15.

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