BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) – The United States Attorney’s Office has taken steps to take custody of two homes in Big Stone Gap connected to the November 2021 death of Officer Michael Chandler.
A release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia states that a civil complaint to forfeit two properties has been unsealed in U.S. District Court. The civil action against both 2505 Orr Street and 2512 Orr Street asks the court to forfeit the homes to the United States.
The complaint was filed on the grounds that both properties were used to commit or facilitate acts of crime. The U.S. Attorney’s Office described both locations as “hubs for a narcotics conspiracy that funneled narcotics to Southwest Virginia.”
U.S. District Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said in a statement that there had been about 78 calls to police to respond to those homes in the 15 months before Chandler’s alleged murder on Orr Street.
Kavanaugh’s full statement can be read below:
“On November 13, 2021, Officer Michael Chandler was responding to provide a welfare check on one of these homes at approximately 4:00 AM, where he was shot and killed. Our criminal investigation into Officer Chandler’s death resulted in federal charges against Michael White for the murder, as well as federal narcotics charges against White and 18 co-conspirators.U.S. District Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh
Our investigation also revealed that these two homes were hubs for a narcotics conspiracy that funneled narcotics to Southwest Virginia, and the owners knew about it and allowed it to proceed. In just the 15-month period prior to White’s death, there were approximately 78 calls for service for local police to respond to these two homes, including 911 calls. The United States Attorney’s will continue to use all the federal laws and tools at our disposal to protect our communities and our citizens.”
The release states the investigation is being conducted with the help of several local and state agencies in both Virginia and Tennessee, as well as multiple federal agencies.
Michael Donivan White has been charged with the felony murder of Officer Chandler. In October 2022, Kavanaugh and Virginia law enforcement agencies announced White was also one of 19 people charged in what was described as an “extensive criminal conspiracy” to traffic narcotics into Southwest Virginia. Kavanaugh said the people charged in that investigation “flooded Southwest Virginia” with methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl.
White’s murder trial is scheduled for June 12.