Marion, VA

Third Marion, VA man sentenced for scheme involving buying pills on Snapchat

Watchful Eye

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Kobe WoodsCourtesy of Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority

Three Marion, Virginia men were arrested on September 27, 2021 for a drug case that involved buying pills on Snapchat and having them shipped from California to Virginia.

The last of the three to be sentenced, 19-year-old Kobe Malik Woods, received 3 ½ years yesterday after pleading guilty in January to one count of possession with the intent to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia reported.

Bringing in the feds

Smyth County authorities were facing a “flood of illegal pill distribution” along with a rising tally of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. Early last year, they launched an investigation, reported SWVA Today.

Smyth County Narcotics Investigator Zachary King, an FBI Task Force officer, took it further and reached out to the FBI and the US Postal Inspection Service for support.

Law enforcement “soon identified multiple people who were involved,” said the U.S. Attorney’s office.

How the trio got caught

US postal authorities intercepted a package sent from the Los Angeles area to “Malik Wood” in Marion. The parcel contained approximately 800 fentanyl pills, the statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Authorities also found Snapchat messages on Wood’s phone involving “a suspected California-based counterfeit pill trafficker,” SWVA reported.

During the investigation, in June and July, authorities also identified and intercepted drug parcels that were destined for Anthony P. Arrindell, now 20. One parcel contained roughly 1100 pressed fentanyl pills, and the other had over 1,700 pressed fentanyl pills, a statement from the USPS inspector general’s office said.

In August, investigators intercepted another suspected drug parcel then conducted a controlled delivery to the Marion post office where they witnessed Arrindell come collect the package, the statement added. Authorities arrested him as he was leaving and found about 200 pressed pills in the parcel.

In January, Arrindell received a three-year sentence in January for attempted possession with the intent to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl.

In the case of Dakota Shadoe Tunnell, 21, authorities determined he was buying about 300 to 500 pills at a time from a distributor and selling them in Marion. He helped seal his fate by selling approximately 100 pills for $1,700 during an undercover operation, the US Attorney General’s office revealed in a statement.

Tunnell pled guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and was sentenced to four years.

About those pills

The pills these men brought to Marion resembled oxycodone-hydrochloride pills, but were inconsistent in size, shape, and color as compared to pharmaceutical-grade pills, the attorney general’s office explained.

Such pills are sometimes referred to as “Roxicodone,” “pressed,” or “M30” pills because they have an “M” imprinted on one side and a “30” on the other side.

“Fentanyl-laced pills pose a significant risk of death to anyone who ingests them, and my office will continue to bring individuals to account for trafficking these deadly drugs in our communities,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh in the statement announcing Woods sentence.

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