For Immediate Release
Pair of Drug Conspirators Convicted Following Jury Trial in Abingdon
Omar Banks and Jimmy Shupe Are Two of 21 Defendants Charged in Methamphetamine Conspiracy
Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A pair of men charged with distributing crystal methamphetamine were convicted by a jury in Abingdon earlier this week following a four-day jury trial, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Special Agent in Charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] Washington Field Division Ashan M. Benedict announced today.
“Methamphetamine use and distribution are among the greatest threats to public safety in far Southwest Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated. “We will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to identify the individuals and organizations responsible for dealing this deadly drug in our communities and put them in federal prison.”
“The combination of firearms and illegal drugs is not only a dangerous one, it is a criminal one, and that’s what you see in this case. These men brought meth into Virginia neighborhoods knowing the harm it causes to people’s lives, and one used a firearm to helped them do it,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Benedict. “ATF will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners and prosecutors to stop violent crime and trafficking in our communities.”
Earlier this week, following a four-day trial, a jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Abingdon convicted Omar Kareem Banks, 44, of Coeburn, Va. and Jimmy Shupe Jr., 37, of Pennington Gap, Va., of Conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. Banks was also convicted of possession of 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to evidence presented at trial, Banks and Shupe were indicted in May 2019, along with 19 others, as part of a large-scale methamphetamine distribution organization that operated in the counties of Lee, Wise, and Scott.
During trial, the jury heard testimony and received documentary evidence, including messages from social media accounts, that established that Banks and Shupe were associated with and acquired significant quantities of methamphetamine from other members of the conspiracy for several years prior to May 2019.
At sentencing, Banks faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years imprisonment on the conspiracy charge and an additional consecutive term of five years on the charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Shupe faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years imprisonment on the conspiracy charge.
To date, 18 of the 21 defendants have pleaded guilty and two were convicted after a jury trial. The one remaining defendant is scheduled for trial in April.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau or Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Norton Police Department and the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Anthony P. Giorno, Jonathan Jones, and Lena Busscher prosecuted the case for the United States.