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Florida man arrested in possible Front Royal human trafficking case involving minor

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A Florida man is being held without bond in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail after being arrested Thursday, May 12, by Front Royal Police officers for allegedly having sex with a juvenile under the age of 15.

FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis said patrol officers were alerted to a possible human trafficking situation regarding an adult who was suspected of having sexual relations with a juvenile.

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that William Chase Mathews, 23, was providing housing for the juvenile and acting as her caretaker. The Florida resident reportedly came to the area recently to provide for the juvenile, whom he had recently met online.

William Chase Mathews


Mathews appeared before a magistrate and was denied bond; he will have a court appearance on June 9, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Magalis stated in the release that detectives are seeking any information regarding this case or any other situations in which a minor may have been solicited or exploited. Chief Magalis said in the release that parents should be aware of the social media platforms their children use online and report any suspicious activities to local law enforcement.

The Front Royal Police Department is an active member of the Northern Virginia/DC Metro (NOVA/DC) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Virginia State Police.

Out of all states and U.S. territories, Virginia ranks 6th for the most human trafficking cases on federal court dockets, according to Kyleigh Feehs, Associate Legal Counsel for the Human
Trafficking Institute, which began compiling statistics on cases in 2017.

That year, there were 783 active criminal and civil human trafficking cases involving 1,930 defendants in the federal court system in the United States. In Virginia, 33 active human trafficking cases in 2017 generated 401 federal charges involving 74 defendants.

Human Trafficking Institute data released in late 2021 shows that two new human trafficking cases were brought to federal court in Virginia, resulting in six people being convicted. The Institute said then that the data release did not consider state cases nor the fact that some courts were shuttered during the Covid pandemic.

Anyone with further information regarding the Front Royal case is encouraged to contact Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

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Crime/Court

Culpeper man arrested after lengthy investigation by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force

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The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force has concluded a lengthy investigation with the arrest of a Culpeper, VA, resident.

On Monday (November 28), Daniel Ruiz-Torres, 29, was arrested by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force following a search warrant along the 200 block of Jenkins Avenue in the Town of Culpeper.

Daniel Ruiz-Torres

 

As a result of the operation, a small amount of cocaine was seized along with drug paraphernalia, packaging materials, scales, $8,844 in currency, and two vehicles. Ruiz-Torres was arrested and charged with one felony count of possession with intent to distribute schedule I/II drugs and one felony count of possession of a schedule I/II drug. Ruiz-Torres was transported to the Culpeper County Jail, where he was held without bond.


The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force (BRNGTF) is composed of law enforcement personnel from the Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Rappahannock Sheriff’s Offices, Culpeper, Warrenton, Orange Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.

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Charlottesville man charged with solicitation of minors

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On Wednesday, November 9, 2022, Front Royal Police detectives initiated an investigation regarding the solicitation of minors in the Warren County/Front Royal area. Detectives started a proactive approach to apprehend individuals soliciting underage victims for sexual purposes.

An undercover operation ensued, and an adult male began soliciting one of our detectives, who he believed to be a female under the age of 15 years old, for photographs and sexually explicit material. The adult male suspect sent sexually explicit materials to the detective, who was posing in an undercover capacity as a juvenile. Some of the material sent by the offender was Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). The initial conversation was unsolicited and started by the offender in this case.

During the investigation, a designated meeting place was arranged within the Town of Front Royal, and the male traveled and met the undercover detectives posing as a juvenile female for lascivious intent.

 

AVERY WOOD


Through the course of this investigation, police identified the suspect as 53-year-old Charlottesville, VA, resident Avery Wood. After meeting with the detectives, Wood was arrested on November 22, 2022, and transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail. Wood went before the magistrate and was ordered to be held without bond. The court date for the listed offenses has been set for December 15, 2022, at 09:00 a.m. in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

The Front Royal Police Department is an active member of the Northern Virginia/DC Metro (NOVA/DC) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Virginia State Police. We request anyone with information regarding the solicitation or exploitation of a minor contact Front Royal Police Department. Anyone with further information regarding this case, please contact Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

The Front Royal Police Department would like to thank the Frederick and Warren County Sheriff’s Offices for their assistance with this investigation and the successful apprehension of this individual.

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Arizona man sentenced in southwest Virginia meth conspiracy

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A defendant in a drug distribution organization that trafficked methamphetamine from Texas and Indiana into Southwest Virginia was recently sentenced in federal court on drug conspiracy charges, United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced.

Pedro Loza III, 28, of Bullhead City, Arizona, was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison this week. He was previously convicted of one count of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of possessing with the intent to distribute and distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine.

In all, five individuals were charged as being part of this drug trafficking conspiracy, four of whom have now been sentenced for their roles in the scheme. Paul Warren Rucker previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison in July 2022. Defendants Amber Lynn Tackett and Benjamin Alvis entered guilty pleas and are scheduled for sentencing in April 2023. The lead defendant, Alonso Cantu-Cantu, is scheduled for trial in March 2023.

This case arose from a series of indictments stemming from an ongoing methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy operating primarily in the Smyth County, Virginia area. In total, 26 defendants have been charged in connection with the investigation.


This investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bristol, Virginia Office, with assistance from the Smyth County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office. Numerous other agencies also provided assistance throughout the investigation, including the Drug Enforcement Administration in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Birmingham, Alabama, the Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the Abingdon, Virginia Police Department, the Rockingham County Virginia RUSH Drug Task Force, the Rockingham County Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the

Harrisonburg, Virginia Police Department, the Bessemer, Alabama Police Department, the Virginia Department of Corrections, the Virginia Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Unit, and the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority.

Special Assistant United States Attorney M. Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, a Senior Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Virginia Attorney General’s Major Crimes and Emerging Threats Section, prosecuted the case for the United States.

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Investigation remains ongoing into shooting incident at UVA

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The criminal investigation remains ongoing into the tragic shootings that claimed the lives of three University of Virginia (UVA) students and injured two others on the evening of Nov. 13, 2022. Christopher D. Jones Jr., 22, of Petersburg, Va., had his first appearance in Albemarle County General District Court on Nov. 16, 2022 on three felony counts of 2nd degree murder, two felony counts of malicious wounding, and five felony counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Jones is being held at the Charlottesville-Albemarle County Regional Jail without bond.

The investigation confirms that Jones had traveled with other UVA students on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, to Washington, D.C. to attend a theater performance at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Following the play, the students and a professor ate dinner in the District. The professor and 22 students returned to Charlottesville in a chartered bus, arriving at UVA at approximately 10:15 p.m. that same day.

The chartered bus pulled to a stop at Culbreth Garage on The Grounds. As the students were getting up to exit the bus, Jones produced a weapon and began firing. As Jones exited the bus, he fired additional rounds and then fled the scene on foot. Jones left the area in his black Dodge Durango.

At approximately 11 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2022, Henrico County, Va. Police apprehended Jones without incident. The officer observed Jones’ SUV and initiated a traffic stop in the 5700 block of Edgelawn St. in the eastern area of the county.


Investigators are still actively piecing together Jones’ movements between the time he fled the shooting scene and was apprehended in Henrico County. At this stage of the investigation, state police is not in a position to comment on Jones’ motives behind the shootings.

Devin Chandler, 20, of Virginia Beach, Va., and D’Sean Perry, 22, of Miami, Fla., succumbed to their injuries at the scene. Lavel Davis Jr., 20, of Ridgeville, S.C., was transported to UVA Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries sustained in the shooting. Their remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for autopsy and examination.

A 19-year-old student from Baton Rouge, La. and a 19-year-old student from Houston, Texas were also shot. They both were transported to UVA Medical Center for treatment of life threatening and non-life threatening injuries, respectively.

During the course of the investigation, a handgun was recovered in relative proximity to the shooting scene. No firearms were recovered inside the bus. A search warrant, executed by investigators on Jones’ residence in Charlottesville, resulted in the recovery of a rifle and a handgun. All firearms have been turned over as evidence to the ATF for processing.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time with the assistance of the University of Virginia Police, Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Albemarle County Police, Charlottesville Police, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Office of the Virginia Attorney General, ATF and FBI.

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Culpeper residents arrested after investigation by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force

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The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force has concluded a lengthy investigation with the arrest of two Culpeper, VA residents.

On Tuesday (November 16), Jesse O. Williams, 60, and Jamie L. Cottoms, 31, were arrested by the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force without incident along the 1300 block of Orange Road in the Town of Culpeper. As a result of the arrests, 20 grams of cocaine was seized along with $1,144 in currency. Williams was charged with two felony counts of possession with intent to distribute schedule I/II drug. Cottoms was charged with one felony count of possession of a schedule I/II drug, and one felony count of possession with intent to distribute/sell schedule I/II drug.  Williams and Cottoms were transported to the Culpeper County Jail where they are being held without bond.

Jesse O. Williams – Photos Courtesy of Culpeper Sheriff’s Office

Jamie L. Cottoms


The Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force (BRNGTF) is composed of law enforcement personnel from the Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Rappahannock Sheriff’s Offices, Culpeper, Warrenton, Orange Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.

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Stephens City: Shots fired-barricaded subject call ends peacefully

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At approximately 5:05 pm, the Frederick County EOC received reports of a subject discharging a firearm within a residence on Westmoreland Drive in Stephens City. The house was occupied at the time, with all subjects able to leave the premises unharmed, leaving the suspect as the lone occupant.

Arriving deputies confirmed shots continued to be fired from within the dwelling at 400 Westmoreland Drive, and a perimeter was set up around the immediate area.

As neighboring homes were evacuated and streets shut down, additional resources were activated and deployed, including Crisis Negotiations, SWAT, and Emergency Medical Services. Members of the Virginia State Police, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Middletown Police Dept., and Stephens City Police Dept. also responded to assist with the developing situation.

The suspect was identified by family members as 45-year-old Daren Eugene Sullivan, who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol and upset over a domestic matter. Over the next several hours, Sullivan would randomly fire off rounds inside the dwelling, with one of those instances appearing to be directed towards two deputies on the perimeter. Sullivan made several threats of self-harm and of a possible forced police shooting.


Members of the FCSO Crisis Negotiation Team continued to attempt to speak with Sullivan during those times when he would answer the phone and respond to them with little progress.

With shots still being fired randomly, albeit less frequently, and attempts to establish a dialogue with the suspect being unsuccessful, non-lethal gas was deployed along with a robotic camera device from the Virginia State Police and drones from FCSO.

After a final round of gas was utilized, images from the drones and robot led commanders to believe that the Sullivan may now be incapacitated.

At 10:19 pm, a SWAT entry team made their way into the house and located Sullivan lying on the floor and unresponsive to verbal commands.

Team members approached the suspect and were able to take him into custody without further incident bringing this situation to an end without any
loss of life. Sullivan was transported to the Winchester Medical Center for evaluation, and criminal charges are forthcoming pending consultation with
the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

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Upcoming Events

Nov
30
Wed
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Nov 30 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
5:00 pm Holiday Book Fair @ Laurel Ridge Community College
Holiday Book Fair @ Laurel Ridge Community College
Nov 30 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Holiday Book Fair @ Laurel Ridge Community College
Meet your Local Authors and Purchase Books for the Holidays You’re invited to our very first Holiday Book Fair! We will provide space for you to display your books and have a chance to interact with[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Nov 30 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
1
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4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 1 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
7:30 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 1 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
Dec
2
Fri
4:00 pm Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Dec 2 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Christmas Tree Sales @ Royal Plaza Shopping Center
Kickoff for tree sales — Boy Scout Troop 52 is ready to help you find that perfect tree. We are located at the Royal Plaza in front of Rural King. We will be selling trees[...]
7:30 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 2 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]
Dec
3
Sat
6:00 am 66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
Dec 3 @ 6:00 am – 1:00 pm
66th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
Veterans,  Law Enforcement, and Fire and Rescue on duty in uniform eats free!
8:00 am Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Dec 3 @ 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Christmas Bazaar @ Valley Assembly of God Church
Food, Crafts, Bake Sale! Still seeking crafters and vendors: 6 foot tables $15.00, 8 foot tables $20.00.
3:00 pm “Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” @ Court Square Theater
Dec 3 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
"Can't Feel At Home" @ Court Square Theater
“Can’t Feel At Home” an original play by Dr John T Glick. The story of families displaced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1930’s to allow for the construction of Shenandoah National Park and[...]