Jury Convicts Leader of Large-Scale Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy
ST. LOUIS – A federal jury returned verdicts of guilty late yesterday against Gerald Hunter, 55, of Los Angeles, for the offenses of conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and two counts of money laundering. U.S. District Judge John A. Ross presided over the trial and will set a sentencing date. Hunter now faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment and up to life.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted a long-term investigation of a fentanyl and cocaine distribution organization in St. Louis. Agents identified Hunter of Los Angeles as an out-of-state source of supply for the St. Louis organization. On April 27, 2017, DEA agents seized approximately 27 kilograms of fentanyl in Florissant, Mo. Hunter was in possession of the bags containing the fentanyl, and his fingerprint was recovered from packaging material. However, Hunter ran from investigators, and made good his escape.
The jury found that Hunter conspired to distribute fentanyl in St. Louis, but also that he possessed the fentanyl with the intent to distribute the drug in St. Louis. The evidence at trial established that the fentanyl was the equivalent of 270,000 usage units before being diluted, with a street value of $1 million. Hunter evaded arrest for three years before the U.S. Marshals Service arrested him. At the time of his arrest, Hunter was in possession of $220,000 in United States currency, 11 cellular phones and two identification cards with someone else’s name. Flight records established Hunter’s frequent pattern of travel to St. Louis from Los Angeles.
“At the time DEA seized Hunter’s 27 kilograms of fentanyl, it was the largest seizure in the region, indicating just how far-reaching his illicit business was,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey, supervisor of DEA operations in Eastern Missouri. “We know these drugs could have caused irreparable damage. We also know this is the end of one drug trafficking organization that will no longer wreak havoc in our communities, and Hunter's guilty verdict is vindication of the tireless efforts of DEA and its local and federal partners."
This case was investigated by the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorneys Erin Granger, Stephen Casey and Jay Redd are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.