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Press Release

Wesleyan Football Player Pleads Guilty to Distributing Synthetic Drug That Caused Overdose

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, today announced that RYAN WELCH, 22, of Salem, Mass., waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to distributing a synthetic hallucinogenic drug at Wesleyan University.

“Federal law enforcement once again finds itself on a university campus, investigating the broad distribution of a synthetic hallucinogen that nearly caused the fatal overdose of a college student,” said U.S. Attorney Daly.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to work closely with DEA and our state and local partners to actively investigate drug overdoses across Connecticut.  It is our collective priority to identify the source and makeup of the drugs that cause overdoses, to remove these drugs from the streets and out of the hands of vulnerable users, and to prosecute those responsible for their illegal distribution.  Too many young people believe synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs when, as this case makes abundantly clear, they are highly dangerous.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, on October 31, 2015, the Wesleyan University Department of Public Safety responded to an emergency call from a campus dorm room and found a male student in severe medical distress.  The victim was convulsing and struggling to breathe, and his body temperature was significantly elevated.  The victim was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he spent several days recovering. 

The investigation revealed that the victim had ingested “2C-B,” and that WELCH was the source of the 2C-B that the victim ingested.

The investigation further revealed that that WELCH, a member of Wesleyan’s football team, had distributed 2C-B to between 15 and 20 other members of the team during the 2015 season.  Initially, he distributed the drug in liquid form, mixing it in a water bottle with a non-alcoholic drink.  Later, he distributed it in powder form, in clear capsules.  Some teammates referred to the 2C-B distributed by WELCH as “Welchie’s drug” or “Welchie’s special.”  Certain players paid WELCH approximately $10 for each single-dose capsule.

The investigation further revealed that WELCH purchased the synthetic drug on the Dark Web using Bitcoin.

WELCH was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on January 21, 2016.

WELCH pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, 2C-E and 2C-B, Schedule I controlled substances (hallucinogens).  The offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

Judge Bolden scheduled sentencing for May 20, 2016.

WELCH is released on a $100,000 bond.

This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Spector and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Eugene Calistro of the Middlesex State’s Attorney’s Office, who has been cross-designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this matter.

Updated March 8, 2016

Drug Trafficking