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Head of drug-trafficking operation sentenced to 14 years in Nelson County

Head of drug-trafficking operation sentenced to 14 years in Nelson County

A Roanoke man at the head of a drug-trafficking network that resulted in substantial amounts of methamphetamine being funneled into Nelson County received a 14-year active sentence Tuesday in Nelson Circuit Court.

Peter Jelf Porter, 54, also known as Christopher Gause Delroy and Semour Maxwell, is charged with two counts of felony racketeering and a single count of distributing more than 250 grams of meth for roughly a two-year period starting in July 2017.

Judge Michael Doucette sentenced Porter to a combined 45-year sentence with all but 14 years suspended. Originally from Jamaica, Porter faces deportation once he completes his sentence.

“Methamphetamine is a huge scourge in the United States and around the world,” Doucette said before sentencing Porter.

Porter’s sentence is the final loose end for the network that operated both in and around the county and has amassed guilty pleas of about a dozen other connected individuals, Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford said.

Those individuals included Porter’s son, Jafori Porter, who at the age of 18 participated in some drug transactions, Rutherford said.

The lead investigator on the case, Detective John Sietz, of the Albemarle County Police Department and Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force, testified it was a controlled buy in December 2018 involving Jafori Porter that led police to Peter Porter’s involvement.

Porter testified he was enrolled in a commercial driver’s license course in Roanoke when he met Torrey Ross, of Arrington, who connected him with the Nelson County-centered drug trafficking network.

While the plea deal outlined a minimum sentence of 14 years, Rutherford argued for a lengthier sentence of 18 years, stating it was “highly warranted” given Porter’s role in the network in which he would sell “very serious, serious quantities of methamphetamine.”

Chuck Felmlee, Porter’s defense attorney, argued for his client to receive the lower end of the agreed-upon sentencing range considering Porter’s age, lack of a previous criminal record and his acceptance of responsibility. Felmlee downplayed his client’s role in the network, stating he was not a “criminal mastermind.”

Felmlee referenced other sentencings that were passed down for individuals connected to the network, some of whom had previous criminal records, but most of whom received sentences on the lower end of the spectrum outlined in those specific plea agreements.

He also noted Porter’s cooperation with law enforcement, having voluntarily returned to the United States from Jamaica after Jafori Porter was arrested and aiding police in identifying multiple other individuals.

“This is the biggest mistake he’s made and it has cost him dearly,” Felmlee said of Porter’s involvement.

Porter did not comment when given the opportunity to do so by the court.

“This was our third successful prosecution of a drug organization moving high levels of methamphetamine,” Rutherford said following the hearing. “When people say drugs are a nonviolent crime, that’s far from the truth.”

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