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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Virginia
For Immediate Release
Christopher R. Kavanaugh, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-wdva
Friday, May 6, 2022

Methamphetamine Dealer Sentenced to 16 Years in Federal Prison

HARRISONBURG, Va. – A Mount Jackson, Virginia man, who was convicted following a three-day jury trial in January of 2022 of distributing methamphetamine and carrying a firearm while doing so, was sentenced today to 16 years in federal prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Merle Brook Stephens, 53, was found guilty in January of one count of knowingly or intentionally possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, one count of carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

According to evidence presented at trial, as part of a larger law enforcement sting operation, Stephens was arrested on December 7, 2018 as he left his hotel room in Mount Jackson, Virginia. At the time of his arrest, Stephens was in possession of more than 323 grams of methamphetamine, a loaded .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun with five loaded magazines, $3,637 in cash, and a variety of drug paraphernalia items.

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh of the Western District of Virginia and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Washington Field Division, announced the sentence.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, the Mount Jackson Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Timberville Police Department, and the Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel B. Swartz and Ronald M. Huber prosecuted the case. 

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