CHARLESTON — A federal jury found a Detroit, Michigan, man guilty of conspiracy to distribute heroin, using and carrying a firearm during the heroin conspiracy, and tampering with a witness, US Attorney Mike Stuart said in a news release.
Curtis Watson, also known as “LOW,” conspired with other drug traffickers from Detroit and Charleston to distribute in excess of 700 grams of heroin in the Southern District of West Virginia.
“I commend the work of law enforcement and my prosecution team for securing the conviction of this dangerous Detroit drug dealer,” Stuart said in the news release. “Watson peddled a significant amount of heroin throughout southern West Virginia for which he is now being held accountable.”
Watson supplied a residence in the Hernshaw area with a substantial amount of heroin, which would then be sold to drug addicts and dealers. Shortly after the conspiracy began, Watson was losing money and he enlisted other Detroit drug traffickers to travel to West Virginia and sell more heroin. Watson would provide these Detroit drug dealers with firearms to protect the heroin. Upwards of $40,000 was being made in a given day at this residence. One witness described the house as being similar to a fast-food restaurant. Another witness described selling drugs out of the house from sun up to sunset.
Watson’s conspiracy ended on Nov. 17, 2017, when the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department responded to the Hernshaw residence because of the drug trafficking activity. Prior to law enforcement arriving, Watson dropped off more heroin and a Hi-Point firearm, and left the area.
After a federal grand jury indicted Watson on Nov. 27, 2018, his first jury trial was scheduled on Aug. 12, 2019. On the day the trial was set to begin, a cooperating witness was threatened by Watson. When Watson saw the witness at the federal courthouse, he yelled at the witness, “I got you! I got you!” After the encounter with Watson, the witness became concerned for their safety and was afraid to testify for the government. Subsequently, the federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Watson on Sept. 18, 2019, adding a charge for tampering with a witness.
Watson faces mandatory five years and up to life in prison on the firearm offense which, by law, must be served consecutively to the other offenses.
He faces mandatory five years and up to 40 years on the conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Lastly, he faces up to 20 years on the tampering with a witness offense. At a minimum, Watson faces a mandatory ten years to life in federal prison when he is sentenced in June 2020.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. 119 Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the West Virginia State Police, and the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation. United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the trial. Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan A. Saunders and Nowles H. Heinrich handled the prosecution.