DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 10, 2018
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney

Leader of Major Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Sentenced to Prison

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Woodbridge man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison, as part of a coordinated law enforcement takedown codenamed Operation Tin Panda, that to date has resulted in 39 defendants convicted on federal firearms and drug charges.
According to court documents, Rashourn Niles, 37, pleaded guilty on April 17 to conspiring to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base, five kilograms or more of cocaine, and 100 grams or more of heroin. He was the main source of cocaine supply for Tarvell Vandiver, who is his stepson and the regional leader of the Imperial Gangsta Bloods. He taught Vandiver how to manufacture “crack” cocaine from the cocaine, and he also put Vandiver in contact with heroin distributors. At all times, Niles knew that Vandiver distributed the controlled substances while armed.
Niles also regularly sold large quantities of cocaine and heroin to other drug distributors operating within the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere. During the conspiracy, Niles stored controlled substances and drug proceeds at multiple residences, and used the proceeds from his drug distribution to purchase luxury vehicles, including a Bentley, Range Rover, Jaguar, and BMW X6, and expensive jewelry, including Rolexes and a necklace worth $45,000.
Niles was arrested in December 2017, when over 300 law enforcement agents and officers executed a coordinated takedown as part of Operation Tin Panda. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division and the FBI’s Washington Field Office Safe Streets Task Force began Operation Tin Panda in the spring of 2017. In collaboration with federal and local law enforcement, investigators and prosecutors began jointly investigating Blood gangs and other drug distributors involved in violent crime and other criminal activity in northern Virginia. Multiple criminal acts were tied to gang and drug activity, including homicide, malicious wounding, robbery, shootings, and drug and firearms distribution. During the course of this investigation, more than 40 individuals throughout Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and California, who were illegally selling firearms and controlled substances or were involved in other criminal acts, were arrested on federal firearms and drug charges.
Operation Tin Panda also resulted in the seizure of over 95 firearms, $150,000 in cash, nine vehicles with an estimated value of over $300,000, and approximately 3 pounds of cocaine base, 10 pounds of cocaine, 7 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 5 pounds of heroin, 4 pounds of ecstasy, 227 pounds of marijuana, and 79 pounds of THC.
Operation Tin Panda was led by the ATF’s Washington Field Division and the FBI’s Washington Field Office Safe Streets Task Force. The DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Prince William County Police Department, Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, Fairfax County Police Department, Alexandria Police Department, Stafford County Sherriff’s Office, Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, King George County Sheriff’s Office, Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Prince George’s County, Maryland Police Department, and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, provided significant assistance during the operation.
Operation Tin Panda was investigated as part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Thomas L. Chittum, III, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carina A. Cuellar and Colleen E. Garcia prosecuted the case.
For more information, please see the table below, which lists the name, age, hometown, respective charge(s), and resulting or potential sentence for each federal defendant convicted as part of Operation Tin Panda. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER.
Washington Field Division