ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A man involved in a deadly 2018 shooting at a drug house in northeast Roanoke has been sentenced to 26 years in federal prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says 23-year-old Darion Mantez Harvey of Goodview, pled guilty in May 2021 to one count of possessing with the intent to distribute and distributing at least 100 kilograms of marijuana, and one count of possessing and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug-related crime.
According to the DOJ, it all started on July 10, 2018, after a car with five people inside arrived at Aaron Lee Woods’ Eastern Avenue NE apartment and got into a shootout with Harvey, Woods, and Chad Matthew Custer.
Four of the people who arrived in the car ran away, but the fifth got back into the car and drove off to get away from the gunfire, which was hitting neighboring houses and vehicles. However, officials say a bullet pierced the car’s window, shattering back of the driver’s skull gunfire and killing him.
At the scene, investigators found multiple firearms used by Harvey, Woods, and Custer during the shootout, including high-powered, military-style rifles with laser sights, as well as several handguns.
“This investigation was difficult and lengthy, but we are glad we could work with our partners at the state, local, and federal level to achieve this outcome,” said Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman in a statement on Wednesday, May 11. “Gun violence is often a companion to drug trafficking, and this is an unfortunate result of that pairing. This sentencing will never compensate for the loss of a life, but we hope it brings some comfort to the victim’s loved ones. Violent crime has no place in Roanoke. The members of the Roanoke Police Department are committed to doing all we can to identify those who are perpetrating violent crime in our community and hold them accountable for their actions.”
According to court documents, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) began investigating a drug trafficking organization in October 2018 involving Aaron Lee Woods and his associates, including Harvey.
Over the course of the investigation, officials say they learned that Woods, Harvey, and others used Woods’ apartment on Eastern Avenue NE to distribute large amounts of marijuana around the Roanoke Valley from late 2017 through August 2019.
Witnesses reportedly told police that customers would visit Woods’ apartment at all hours to buy marijuana from the defendants, who kept their loaded firearms in plain sight.
“Drug trafficking and violent crime often go hand in hand, and my Office continues to vigorously prosecute those who use firearms to threaten the safety and security of the citizens of the Western District of Virginia,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said. “Armed drug dealers contribute significantly to the increased level of gun violence and death in our communities, and I am grateful to both ATF and Roanoke City Police Department for their partnership and tireless efforts to the Roanoke community in this case.”
Even though Harvey was sentenced on Wednesday to 26 years in prison for his role in the drug distribution conspiracy and shooting a gun amid the July 2018 shooting, Woods and Custer are scheduled for their jury trials until Oct. 24-28.
The City of Roanoke Police Department investigated the case, along with the ATF and the Drug Enforcement Administration.