Baltimore, Maryland – Shawn Growden, age 30, of Winchester, Virginia, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland to federal charges of possessing and distributing heroin and fentanyl.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Sheriff Mark A. Butler of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Sheriff Lenny Milholland of the Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office; and Chief John Piper of the Winchester, Virginia Police Department.
“State and federal law enforcement are working together to arrest and prosecute those who peddle deadly fentanyl on our streets and in our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “More and more people are dying from fentanyl overdoses, including the fatal overdose victim who bought drugs from this defendant. We must do everything we can to reduce overdose deaths from this drug and from all opioids.”
According to Growden’s plea agreement, he regularly obtained narcotics from a Baltimore-based drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) which he then resold to paying customers in Winchester, Virginia and the surrounding areas.
From March 1, 2019, through Growden’s arrest on March 26, 2019, he regularly traveled to Baltimore to purchase approximately 62 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl, which he possessed with the intent to distribute.
On one occasion, Growden’s drug dealing resulted in a fatal overdose. On March 22, 2019, Growden purchased approximately 11 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl from the DTO in Baltimore. Later that day, Growden traveled to Winchester, Virginia and sold a portion of the heroin/fentanyl he had just bought to a victim.
On March 24, 2019, Virginia State Police responded to the victim’s house for a welfare check and found him deceased inside his bedroom. Inside the residence, police found a powdery substance consistent with heroin, along with the victim’s phone which revealed that the final outgoing text communications were with Growden on March 22, 2019, the contents of which were consistent with arranging a drug transaction. The medical examiner later concluded that the cause of death was acute combined fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, heroin, and tramadol poisoning.
On March 26, 2019, Growden again communicated with a member of the Baltimore DTO and arranged to purchase approximately 10 grams of heroin. While returning to Winchester, Virginia, Growden’s vehicle was stopped by members of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, who recovered the heroin that Growden had just purchased.
After Growden was arrested, he agreed to speak with investigators and admitted that he had sold heroin to the fatal overdose victim on March 22, 2019. Growden also provided consent to search his cellular phone, which revealed additional text communications indicating that Growden had been redistributing the heroin purchased from the Baltimore DTO over the prior three weeks.
Growden faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison possessing and distributing heroin and fentanyl. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for October 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur praised the FBI; the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force; the Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office; and the Winchester, Virginia Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Goldsticker and Matthew DellaBetta, who are prosecuting the case.