By Joe Beck
PCP, crack cocaine, marijuana and other drugs flowed with regularity for 10 years from Barnett Southall Dillman Jr.'s parents' home in Bladensburg, Md., south to Front Royal.
Dillman, 32, kept selling to people shuttling back and forth between Bladensburg and Front Royal. He brought a methodical, business-like discipline to the task, turning on his cell phone every evening, seven days a week, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and taking calls from customers until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.
It all came crashing down around him when law enforcement officials appeared at his home on Nov. 29, 2011 at the conclusion of a two-year undercover drug operation. Dillman quickly admitted to an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that he had been selling crack cocaine and PCP since 2001.
Dillman's actions were detailed in online federal court documents that described his drug dealing as a "well-established business model" that relied on his cell phone and operated primarily from the backyard of his parents' home.
U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski sentenced Dillman Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to 35 years in prison at the conclusion of a five-hour hearing.
In an interview Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Wolthuis said the total street value of the drugs sold by Dillman exceeded an estimated $2 million.
Wolthuis said there is no evidence that Dillman ever sold drugs on his own in Front Royal. He remained in Maryland, but the case was heard in Virginia because those buying drugs from Dillman were from Front Royal and Warren County, Wolthuis said.
"The conspiracy was basically people in Front Royal, Warren County, they would arrive in Maryland, get their stuff and bring it back," Wolthuis said.
Wolthuis said the length and magnitude of the conspiracy and the regular, consistent hours Dillman maintained in selling drugs were the main factors that led authorities to seek a tougher sentence than those set forth in federal guidelines.
"The investigators had been aware of this guy and working on him for many years," Wolthuis added.
One of the buyers was Thomas Steven Lewis, a co-defendant in the case who pleaded guilty to several drug-related counts last year. Lewis, of Front Royal, was 15 at the time he first met Dillman in 2008. Lewis is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.
Wolthuis said Dillman's brother was shot and killed years ago while dealing drugs as part of the same conspiracy. A close friend of Dillman's who was also participating in the conspiracy was shot in the face and blinded. He died from complications several years later, Wolthuis said.
"Even with all that happening, he just kept dealing," Wolthuis said of Dillman.
The undercover law enforcement operation mounted against Dillman involved seven controlled buys of PCP and crack from Oct. 27, 2009 through Nov. 15, 2011, according to online court records. Authorities identified roughly 30 customers buying from Dillman, Wolthuis said.
"The investigators working with the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force and the ATF agents working the case did a tremendous job of investigating and putting this case together," Wolthuis said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org