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Posted on: June 6, 2023

Commonwealth v. Howard G. Harris

Maryland Man Sentenced to 5 Active Years for Transporting 2 Kilos of Fentanyl Into Norfolk in 2021

NORFOLK, Va. – Howard G. Harris (a.k.a. Christopher Wilson), 49, was sentenced Friday to five active years in prison for importing nearly two kilograms of fentanyl into the Commonwealth in 2021.

Norfolk Police investigators received information that an individual was distributing fentanyl and heroin in the local area. The investigators, while working undercover, contacted Mr. Harris by cell phone and arranged to purchase two kilograms of fentanyl or heroin. It was agreed that Mr. Harris would come to Norfolk to deliver the drugs. Based on this information, the investigators secured a search warrant for Mr. Harris' cell phone GPS data, which placed him in the Baltimore area of Maryland.

On Dec. 3, 2021, the undercover investigators spoke again with Mr. Harris and arranged to meet at the Walmart on Tidewater Drive. The investigators tracked Mr. Harris' phone GPS during his trip from Baltimore to Norfolk. Once Mr. Harris arrived, the investigators positively identified him. Mr. Harris exited his vehicle with a backpack and entered an undercover investigator’s vehicle. The investigator then drove to a nearby gas station and exited the vehicle. Mr. Harris was then detained by members of the NPD Special Operations Team.

Mr. Harris admitted that an individual from New York brought him the drugs to transport to Virginia. Mr. Harris stated he believed it was cocaine. Around two kilograms of fentanyl was found in Mr. Harris' backpack. Investigators field tested the substance and received a positive result for fentanyl.

The suspected drugs were also sent to the DEA for analysis, and the agency confirmed the drugs in Mr. Harris’ possession was a combined net weight of 1,954 grams of fentanyl. According to the DEA, one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.

On Feb. 27, 2023, Mr. Harris pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and to transporting one or more ounces of narcotics into the Commonwealth, and Judge Mary Jane Hall accepted his plea. On Friday, June 2, 2023, Judge Hall imposed an active prison sentence of five years for the transportation of narcotics into the Commonwealth. In addition, Judge Hall imposed a total of 10 years of suspended prison time on that charge and the charge of possession with the intent to distribute. Mr. Harris' suspended sentences are conditioned upon his completion of five years of supervised probation following his release from prison.

Mr. Harris' sentencing guidelines recommended one year and seven months in prison at the high end. The Commonwealth recommended a departure above the high end because of the significant quantity of fentanyl Mr. Harris had imported, and the judge accepted that recommendation.

"Howard Harris was no street-level dealer. He imported nearly two kilos of deadly, addictive fentanyl into Norfolk and, but for quality police work, would have injected those drugs into our community," said Commonwealth's Attorney Ramin Fatehi. "Mr. Harris will serve a sentence that fits with the potentially deadly nature of his crime, and we will continue to work to hold high-level dealers accountable."

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Graham M. Stolle prosecuted Mr. Harris’ case on behalf of the Commonwealth.

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