Roanoke Man sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for heroin distribution

Roanoke Valley News
Officials say James Robert Banks of Roanoke was sentenced on Thursday, Oct. 22, to 132 months in federal prison for distributing heroin. (Photo: Courtesy Roanoke City Jail)

Officials say James Robert Banks of Roanoke was sentenced on Thursday, Oct. 22, to 132 months in federal prison for distributing heroin. (Photo: Courtesy Roanoke City Jail)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On Thursday, a Roanoke man reportedly responsible for distributing between one and three kilograms of heroin throughout the Roanoke area in 2019 was sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

According to an announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday, Oct. 23, James Robert Banks was sentenced in Roanoke’s U.S. District Court on Thursday, Oct. 22, to 132 months in federal prison following his conviction on federal drug distribution charges earlier in the year.

Officials say Banks, 32, pleaded guilty in June to one count of possession with the intent to distribute heroin.

“Heroin abuse continues to plague our communities in a cycle of painful abuse, and those that distribute it must face justice,” Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar said Friday. “Thanks to the work of the DEA and the members agencies of the Roanoke-area HIDTA on this investigation, there is less heroin on the streets of Roanoke today.”

The DOJ says the criminal charges against Banks were linked to his sale of heroin on certain dates in August and November 2019. 

According to court documents, law enforcement agents arranged for the controlled purchase of approximately $6,000 worth of heroin from Banks on two occasions, during which times Banks sold the heroin from a commercial auto repair facility owned by his father on Centre Avenue in Roanoke, owned by his father. 

In connection with his guilty plea to distribution charges, the DOJ says Banks has acknowledged distributing between one and three kilograms of heroin in the Roanoke area in 2019.   

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and member agencies of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA) — including the Roanoke City Police Department, Virginia State Police, Roanoke County Police Department, and Salem Police Department — as well as the FBI, according to officials. Meanwhile, Bubar and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kari Munro reportedly prosecuted the case.

Officials say case was brought forward as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a major part of the DOJ’s violent crime reduction efforts. 

“Through PSN, a broad spectrum of law enforcement groups use evidence-based techniques to identify and address violent and related crime in local communities with the aim of focusing law enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders. As part of this strategy, the PSN initiative involves partnerships with locally-based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime,” Friday’s statement said.

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