Cartel-linked heroin, fentanyl traffickers plead guilty to distributing drugs in Newport News, North Carolina

Posted at 2:41 PM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 14:41:36-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Five people accused of taking part in an extensive drug trafficking ring either entered pleas or were sentenced to prison for distributing large amounts of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine in Newport News and North Carolina.

“Fentanyl and heroin have inflicted immeasurable amounts of pain and brought devastation to families across the United States and in EDVA,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Due to their tenacity and commitment, our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners seized 24 illegal firearms, 30 kilograms of heroin, and enough fentanyl to kill over 14 million people, saving our communities from significant loss of life and destruction.”

According to court documents, Morelos man Ramiro Ramirez-Barreto, 44, operated a continuing criminal enterprise with ties to Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and California. Ramirez-Barreto was linked to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, as were his drug sources, and his operation supplied cocaine, heroin and fentanyl to drug traffickers in Newport News, Virginia and in Henderson and Greensboro, North Carolina.

Court documents say Ramirez-Barreto supplied one of his customers with 60 kilograms of heroin from early 2018 to mid-2019. Another one of Ramirez-Barreto’s customers was an inmate in federal prison operating a drug trafficking organization in Henderson, North Carolina using a bootleg mobile phone.

Ramirez-Barreto pleaded guilty and faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison.

Four additional defendants were also sentenced for their roles in the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Tangynika Johnson, 44, of Henderson, NC, assisted co-defendant Cory Bullock, an inmate in a West Virginia federal prison, in getting drug proceeds delivered to Ramirez-Barreto. Johnson pleaded guilty on January 29, 2021, to using a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking, and faces a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

James Noyes, 55, of Newport News, was a mid-level heroin distributor within co-conspirator Damarcus Mackie’s drug trafficking organization. Noyes was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Keith A. Brownson, 42, of Henderson, North Carolina, was a cocaine and heroin dealer who arranged drop-offs of drugs and drug proceeds with Ramirez-Barreto. Brownson pleaded guilty on January 29, 2021, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. He faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

Russell P. Johnson, 50, of Suffolk, Virginia, was sentenced to 140 months in prison on January 25, 2021, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, and 500 grams or more of cocaine.