Berryville Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Possession of a Firearm, Distribution of Cocaine | USAO-WDVA

HARRISONBURG, Va. – A Berryville, Virginia man pleaded guilty today to a pair of federal firearm and narcotics charges.  He fled police following a traffic stop in January 2020 and was found in possession of a loaded Smith & Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and a cache of narcotics secreted in a storage unit. Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Washington Field Division, and Jesse Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Field Division made the announcement today.

Cironta Commander, 22, pleaded guilty today to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of possession with the intent to distribute and distributing 28 grams or more of cocaine base.

According to court documents, on January 27, 2020 an officer with the Berryville Police Department initiated a traffic stop of Commander. As the officer returned to his cruiser to investigate a potential discrepancy in Commander’s paperwork, Commander sped from the scene at a high rate of speed. When the defendant approached an intersection, he failed to stop at a stop sign and drove into a grassy area between an apartment building and a tree, where there were people present in the common area. As the defendant reentered the roadway, he drove toward a dead end and crashed into a tree.

Commander attempted to flee the scene on foot while carrying a backpack but was detained. In a search of the backpack, officers found a loaded Smith & Wesson, 9mm, semi-automatic pistol containing five rounds of ammunition. In addition, officers found approximately 3.66 oz. of marijuana, $4,738 in cash, a bundle of clear plastic bags commonly used for narcotics distribution, and a small plastic bag of white powder with 2.19 grams of powder cocaine. At the time of his possession of the firearm, Commander was a previously convicted felon prohibited from legally possessing a firearm.

Local police and federal agents executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence in Berryville, Va., on February 3, 2020. In the basement of the residence, officers found three rifles and $4,392. In the closet in the master bedroom, agents located a shoebox with an additional $11,000 in cash.

Additionally, during the search of a Cadillac Escalade parked in the driveway, agents recovered an access card for a storage unit in Stephens City, Virginia. Agents went to that location and learned the unit had only been leased following Commander’s arrest. After obtaining a search warrant of the location, agents recovered a variety of narcotics, including 191.64 grams of fentanyl, 32.96 grams of heroin, 349.47 grams of powder cocaine and 181.83 grams of cocaine base.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Berryville Police Department and the Office of the Clark County Commonwealth’s Attorney. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh is prosecuting the case for the United States.  

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