DEA's "Operation Goodfellas" Busts $19 Million Drug-Trafficking Ring

By Keri Blakinger 10/22/18

Federal prosecutors estimate that the group moved 11.5 kilos of crack, 436 kilos of coke, 54 kilos of heroin and more than 20 pounds of pot.

Law enforcement officials announcing the drug bust
Photo via YouTube

More than 150 cops and federal agents teamed up to catch five Virginia men who allegedly masterminded a $19 million drug-trafficking plot. 

Dubbed “Operation Goodfellas,” the sting netted four arrests last week, on top of two collars earlier this year at a Virginia hotel. One of the suspected drug slingers is still at large. 

“For years, members of this organization have allegedly distributed significant quantities of narcotics throughout Hampton Roads,” the DEA’s Washington-based special agent in charge Scott W. Hoernke, said in a statement. “These indictments and arrests represent the dismantling of an allegedly prominent drug trafficking organization responsible for the smuggling, transportation and distribution of substantial quantities of narcotics from Los Angeles to Norfolk."

A “conservative estimate” by federal prosecutors suggested that the group had moved 11.5 kilos of crack, 436 kilos of cocaine, 54 kilos of heroin, an ounce of fentanyl and more than 20 pounds of pot. 

The investigation kicked off in 2016, when undercover officers allegedly started buying cocaine, heroin and crack from 38-year-old Reginald Sam Beale, of Norfolk.

The lawmen eventually started buying from Beale’s alleged co-conspirators, 36-year-old Maurice Antonio Barnes, 37-year-old Brandon Jaami Williams, 39-year-old Breon Lashawn Dixon and 34-year-old Johnell Deshawn Stepney. By the start of summer 2018, undercover officers had made nearly 30 controlled buys—and they’d also nailed down the source of the hard drugs. 

Coming in from Los Angeles, the coke was being trucked to Virginia in 10- and 20-key hauls, then unloaded at a public storage facility in Virginia Beach, investigators said. In June, authorities arrested Williams with 13 kilograms of coke he was allegedly moving from one luxury Norfolk apartment to another. 

The following month, feds arrested a pair of accused drug traffickers—one from Mexico and one from Los Angeles—after they flew to Virginia to try to get back some cocaine and pick up more than $500,000 in cash. 

“These defendants allegedly distributed approximately $19 million of illegal narcotics in Hampton Roads,” said federal prosecutor G. Zachary Terwilliger. “The resources and collaborative efforts used to investigate this alleged drug trafficking organization is a prime example of the positive impact of federal, state, and local cooperation. My sincere thanks to our law enforcement partners for their outstanding efforts on this case.”

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.