A Nelson County man described as “instrumental” in a methamphetamine distribution network that stretched Nelson and Albemarle counties was sentenced Sept. 4 in Nelson Circuit Court.
David Camm Ragland IV was charged with one count each of racketeering, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and distribution. He will serve an 11-year active sentence on the combined charges with 39 years suspended.
As part of his sentencing, Ragland must complete 25 years of good behavior and five years of supervised probation upon his release.
“What I can’t ignore is you played a big role in injecting a very dangerous drug ... in Nelson County,” Nelson Circuit Court Judge Frederick Watson said before handing down Ragland’s sentence.
Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford said Ragland’s involvement began not long after he completed parole in 2017 stemming from a robbery of a residence that occurred in 2013.
Rutherford said Ragland had received shipments of meth from Peter Jelf Porter, the head of this particular distribution network in Nelson County who pleaded guilty June 30 and faces a minimum 14-year active sentence. At the height of his operation, the prosecution said Porter would traffic as much as one pound of meth into the county every week.
From there, Ragland would distribute the meth to a “host of individuals.”
Rutherford said in late 2018, the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force performed several controlled buys through the use of confidential informants. He said of those operations, informants either met directly with Ragland to purchase meth or had provided investigators with observations that linked the defendant to the network.
“It was a massive operation that went on for about a year,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said the other individuals who took part in the meth distribution network corroborated the extent of Ragland’s involvement.
Ragland’s attorney, Dave Heilberg, said the defendant has done everything possible to cooperate and has provided “substantial assistance” in identifying the extent of the operation that has resulted in roughly a dozen other guilty pleas.
He also said Ragland was the one to provide information that identified Porter as the head of the operation, but Rutherford objected, stating it was Porter’s son, Jafori Porter, who first provided that information.
Jafori Porter, 19, also was sentenced Friday in Nelson Circuit Court to a 10- year sentence with all but 9 years and 10 months suspended, leaving a two-month active sentence. Porter must complete 10 years of good behavior and two years of supervised probation.
Rutherford, who prosecuted both cases, argued for Jafori Porter to be incarcerated for one year. Rutherford said Jafori Porter, who was being groomed by his father, had taken part in several drug transactions, including when he was asked by a family friend to collect money from someone in Nelson County in January 2018 as part of a meth deal.
Detective Matt McCall with the Albemarle County Police Department and the JADE Task Force said then-18-year-old Jafori Porter had told detectives during questioning he was aware he was collecting money for drugs, but said he did not know at the time that drug was meth. He reiterated that stance when he took the witness stand.
When given the opportunity to speak before he was sentenced, Ragland said he associated with the wrong people in his life that led him down this path. Ragland's mother, Katina Wood, also has pleaded guilty to her involvement in the distribution network.
“I want to apologize to all the people that have been affected by my actions,” Ragland said.
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