Three members of a family living together in Fauquier County, Virginia, were arrested and made their initial appearances last week for allegedly conspiring to distribute prescription pain medication from their home since at least 2009. Vernon Scott Carter, 55, his wife, Helen R. Carter, 50, and their son, Jason Vernon Carter, 29, allegedly conspired since 2009 to obtain Oxycodone and Oxymorphone prescribed to them from a local physician and sell them for a profit. The family is facing the charges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Law enforcement began investigating the Carter family with the assistance of two confidential informants (CI). The CIs allegedly made purchases from the Carters under the surveillance of government agents. The affidavit that was submitted to establish probable cause for the search tends to imply that the confidential informants revealed information about their relationship with the Carters in order to deflect attention from themselves as purchasers and users of prescription pills. Specifically, a substantial amount of the evidence against the Carter family stems from information given to the government by one of the informants prior to surveillance being conducted. The information subsequently led to the surveillance and search and arrest warrants.

During the execution of a search warrant on their Bealeton, Virginia, residence at the time of arrest, agents allegedly recovered more than a quarter pound of marijuana, as well as many and varied prescription pills stashed in kitchen drawers and other places around the house.

The doctor who allegedly prescribed the medication to Vernon and Helen Carter is not identified in the court documents, and it is unclear whether a separation investigation is being pursued against him.

This case is part of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation nicknamed Operation Cotton Candy, which has been focusing on the illegal distribution by numerous doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and patients of pain medication. Operation Cotton Candy, headed by the FBI, is primarily concerned with the Northern Virginia area, and has secured more than 200 drug-trafficking convictions and guilty pleas since its inception in 2002.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or

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