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Drug ring investigation nets more pleas, sentencings

Mother and son face jail time for incestuous relationship
Posted at 7:37 PM, Jan 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 19:37:38-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- The mastermind behind a large drug-trafficking ring operating in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and California has entered a guilty plea, federal prosecutors in Virginia said Friday.

Four other defendants arrested in an investigation dubbed “Operation Cookout” either pleaded guilty or were sentenced in the past week for distributing large amounts of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine in Newport News and North Carolina, officials said

Ramiro Ramirez-Barreto, 44, faces at least 20 years in prison after pleading guilty on Monday to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. Authorities described Ramirez-Barreto as a Mexican national linked to the Sinaloa cartel who supplied cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl to several drug distribution rings in Newport News, Virginia and in Henderson and Greensboro, North Carolina.

Authorities said his customers included federal prison inmate who operated a drug trafficking organization in Henderson using a bootleg mobile phone.

Ramirez-Barreto faces a maximum term of life in prison when sentenced in July. A search of his home uncovered 19 kilograms of heroin and more than $600,000 in cash.

Two Henderson residents, Tangynika Johnson, 44, and Keith Brownson, 42 entered guilty pleas on Friday and also face sentencing in July.

James Noyes, 55, of Newport News was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison, and Russell P. Johnson, 50, of Suffolk, Virginia was sentenced on Monday to more than 11 years behind bars.