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NORFOLK, Va. – A Lancaster, California man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to court documents, while he was serving a life sentence in a California prison, Nicholas Everet Thurman, 38, acted as a contact between drug customers and suppliers, using various means including contraband mobile telephones. Thurman arranged for methamphetamine and other controlled substances to be shipped from drug suppliers in California and Mexico to drug distributors in the Eastern District of Virginia and New Jersey for further distribution.

On May 24, 2019, a federal grand jury in Norfolk returned an indictment charging Thurman and others with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Following his indictment, Thurman was transported to Norfolk, where the U.S. Marshal placed Thurman in custody at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk. Upon arrival, Thurman regularly communicated with Sallie Renee Jones, a Chesapeake resident. From September 2019, and continuing thereafter until October 2019, Thurman and Jones routinely discussed ongoing shipments of controlled substances and corresponding payments for drug shipments. It was revealed to investigators that Thurman had access to multiple drug trafficking organizations based in California, as well as Mexico, which he used to have methamphetamine and other illegal controlled substances mailed to the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere for distribution.

Between June 2019 and October 2019, Thurman caused approximately 24 parcels containing methamphetamine and other controlled substances to be shipped through the U.S. Mail from California to Jones in the South Hampton Roads area. Jones received the final such parcel on October 21, 2019, at her residence in Chesapeake. On October 24, 2019, the police seized 207.07 grams of methamphetamine from Jones and her passenger during a traffic stop in Virginia Beach. On the same date, the police seized 303.4 grams of methamphetamine from Jones’ residence in Chesapeake.

Jones pleaded guilty on July 26 and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 30.

Thurman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Thurman faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life in prison when sentenced on February 25, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Anthony F. Zucaro, Jr., Interim Chief of Virginia Beach Police, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Darryl J. Mitchell is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-cr-83.

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