ABINGDON, Va. — A federal grand jury indicted 21 Southwest Virginia residents Tuesday on charges of conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.

According to the indictment, the 21 defendants conspired to distribute methamphetamine in Lee and Wise counties and elsewhere in Southwest Virginia between July 2016 and May 2019.

The indictment was unsealed Tuesday following the arrest of five of the defendants, while some others were previously taken into custody, according to a written statement. Four unnamed defendants remain wanted by authorities.

Among those charged was Travis Lee Pennington, 36, of Appalachia. He is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, three counts of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, one count of using a communication device in the commission of a drug trafficking offense, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, one count of being a convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm, one count of being in possession of a firearm that had the manufacturer’s serial number removed or altered and one count of using violence or the threat of violence to retaliate against a witness.

According to the indictment, between Feb. 22 and March 5, 2019, Pennington used violence or the threat of violence to retaliate against a witness.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Omar Kareem Banks, 44, of Coeburn, is charged with one count of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and one count of being a convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm.

Shawn Brandon Barnes, 40, of Appalachia, is charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of using a communication device in the commission of a drug trafficking offense.

Others charged include Jeffrey Wayne Caudill, 47, of Keokee; Jaime Lee Christian, 39, of Wise County; Carl Lee Davis Jr., 33, of Keokee; Jonathan Earl Funk, 32, of Wise County; Lewis Wesley Hickman III, 25, of Wise County; Joseph Andrew Hobbs, 27, of Wise County; James Morrison Johnson, 28, of Wise County; Jeremey David Mallory, 41, no hometown listed; Tony Lynn McClellan, 33, of Big Stone Gap; Susan Adrianna Mullins, 30, no hometown listed; David Stone Ringley, 28, of Wise County; Travis Ryan Skaggs, 30, of Wise County, and Joshua Barrett Sutherland, 33, no hometown listed.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, which is comprised of local and state law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorney Lena Busscher will prosecute the case.

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