According to court documents, in October 2019, Eric Darnell Royal, Jr., 23, traveled by himself to the Chula Gas Mart, located in Amelia. Upon arrival, Royal possessed a red bag around his waist that contained illegal narcotics and possessed a firearm inside his vehicle. Shortly after arriving, two individuals approached Royal, assaulted him, and ripped the red bag from his waist. A struggle ensued in the parking lot between Royal and the two men causing multiple plastic baggies to fall from the red bag onto the ground. Following the fight, Royal picked up the red bag and left the gas station. Law enforcement later recovered, on the ground in the parking lot, two clear plastic baggies with 342 purple oval unmarked tablets determined to be 76.49 grams of methamphetamine and 58.99 grams of marijuana.
An off-duty law enforcement officer who witnessed the fight followed Royal to a residence in Amelia County. The off-duty officer called Amelia County Sheriff Deputies for backup. Once arriving to the scene, the Amelia Deputies looked into Royal’s vehicle and in plain view observed a firearm and a red bag on the driver’s seat. After conferring with investigators who responded to the Chula Gas Mart scene about the fight and a potential shooting, the deputies applied for and obtained a state search warrant for Royal’s vehicle. Inside the vehicle, the officers recovered a Glock 9mm, Model 34, semi-automatic pistol, loaded with 17 rounds, a Glock 30 round magazine (empty), a red zippered bag containing: green leafy material, $200 in United States currency, and plastic baggies with 15.89 grams of methamphetamine purple powder, a variety of unspent ammunition, digital scales, a Glock 9mm magazine, and a Taurus magazine.
In August, federal agents arrested Royal at his place of business, located in Chester. After determining that Royal’s vehicle was on the premises, federal agents observed in plain view a plastic vacuum sealed bag on the front seat with a substance consistent with marijuana residue inside. Federal agents applied for and obtained a federal search warrant for Royal’s vehicle. A search of the vehicle revealed: a loaded Sig Sauer, Model P229, .40 caliber, semi-automatic pistol; a vacuum-sealed bag with marijuana residue; a digital scale; and marijuana.
Royal pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 2, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik S. Siebert is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:20-cr-84.