Authorities Charge Defendants for Roles in Drug Distribution Network

Authorities Charge Defendants for Roles in Drug Distribution Network

( – A recent study revealed that the rate of fatal fentanyl overdoses related to all deaths from illicit drugs rose from “7.2% in 2010 to a [high] of 35.7% in 2020, before [dropping]… to 33.9% in 2021.” The following year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) pushed back on the increasing availability of the deadly drug, seizing nearly 49 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and roughly 5.24 tons of the drug in powdered form.

On November 20, the DEA issued a press release detailing the addition of 13 new defendants to the fourth superseding indictment obtained by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia related to a fentanyl distribution network that operated from California to Washington, DC. The agency’s head, Anne Milgram, explained that the near-immediate death of DC resident Diamond Lynch from one fentanyl-laced pill kicked off a joint investigation involving DEA agents, federal prosecutors, the Washington-based Postal Inspector’s Office, and the District’s Metropolitan Police Department.

The new indictment named 25 individuals, charging them with various felonies for their role in the operation. The breakdown shows that federal prosecutors charged:

  • 25 for conspiring to distribute 400 grams (about 14 ounces) or more of fentanyl;
  • 3 with conspiring to commit international money laundering;
  • 3 for possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute;
  • 1 for possessing a machine gun in the furtherance of a trafficking crime involving drugs.

DEA Special Agent in Charge, Jarod Forget, lauded the addition of the 13 new defendants. He stressed that the agency was “making a difference by [targeting] the violent drug traffickers poisoning [the country’s] communities.” Damon Wood, the US Postal Inspection Services head for the DC Division, echoed that sentiment and stressed the commitment of members of the joint investigation to bringing drug traffickers to justice.

Putting the fentanyl problem in perspective, the DEA estimated that agents confiscated the equivalent of more than 364 million lethal doses of the drug in 2022 and over 410 million so far in 2023.

If convicted, all 25 defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life on the conspiring to distribute fentanyl charge. The court hasn’t set a date for their next hearing yet.

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