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Operation Tin Panda Blasts Drug and Weapon Trafficking in Virginia


Operation Tin Panda featured approximately 300 law enforcement agents in a coordinated effort to hinder drug trafficking and weapon crimes, as reported by InsideNoVA.

As a result of Operation Tin Panda, police were able to arrest and charge 28 people. Police were also able to seize the following contraband:

  • 36,075 grams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC);
  • 23,838 grams of marijuana;
  • 4,408 grams of cocaine;
  • 2,152 grams of crystal methamphetamine;
  • 1,292 grams of cocaine base;
  • 815 grams of heroin; and
  • 71 firearms.

It should be noted that the list above is still a work in progress. The agents of Operation Tin Panda continue to collect evidence. Until the operation concludes, there is a distinct possibility of additional seizures, arrests, and charges.

In the meantime, it feels like a perfect time to review Virginia laws concerning drug trafficking, which is the most common charge stemming from Operation Tin Panda thus far.

What is a Controlled Substance in Virginia?

As established in Code of Virginia §54.1-3401, controlled substance is the legal term for illegal drugs. Mirroring the same approach as the federal government, Virginia uses schedules or lists to divide controlled substances into separate categories. Under Virginia law, any controlled substance in Schedule I, II, III, or IV is considered an illegal drug, including the drugs seized by Operation Tin Panda in the list above.

What are the Virginia Laws Concerning Drug Trafficking?

As laid out in Code of Virginia §18.2-248, it is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or sell Schedule I-IV controlled substances in Virginia. Additionally, it is illegal to possess large amounts of Schedule I-IV controlled substances while intending to manufacture, distribute, or sell.

What are the Virginia Penalties Concerning Drug Trafficking?

Under Code of Virginia §18.2-248, the first conviction for drug trafficking can result in five to 40 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. A second conviction for drug trafficking can also result in $500,000 in fines and a prison term of at least five years with the chance of a life sentence.

Furthermore, Virginia employs a distinct penalty structure for distribution of specific controlled substances at certain quantities. For example, it is a felony – punishable by $1,000,000 in fines and five years to life in prison – to manufacture, distribute, or sell:

  • 500 grams or more of cocaine;
  • 250 grams or more of cocaine base;
  • 100 grams or more of heroin; or
  • 10 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Contact Us for Assistance

Whether you are dealing with charges of drug trafficking, weapons crimes, or other criminal offenses, you should have an attorney by your side. Don’t hesitate to contact Simms Showers LLP for help, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas.



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