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Press Release

New Jersey Man Sentenced for Shipping Fentanyl Analogue to North Carolina

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Plainfield, New Jersey man was sentenced to 48 months in prison for Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 4-Fluroisobutyryl Fentanyl.

According to court documents, Darrell Lee Watson, 39, pled guilty to the charge on May 21, 2020.

The investigation was initiated on October 11, 2017, when agents observed co-conspirator Thornton Lewis Watson IV conducting what appeared to be hand-to-hand drug transactions in Raleigh. Agents found Thornton Watson in possession of $3,485, a 9mm handgun and 70 pills that appeared to be Oxycodone.

When tested, the pills were determined to contain 4-Fluroisobutyryl Fentanyl, an analogue of Fentanyl.

On December 14, 2017, agents seized marijuana, $7,869, a firearm, and a cell phone from Thornton Watson. The cell phone was later searched pursuant to a search warrant, and agents found text messages in which Thornton Watson provided Darrell Watson with the Durham address of a woman named Shantevia Evans.  Darrell Watson responded by providing a tracking number for a package.

Agents then determined that between October and December 2017, seven packages had been sent to Evans, and one was still in transit.

On December 15, 2017, agents seized the package that was still in transit, and it was found to contain 414 pills that were marked as if they were Oxycodone. In fact, they were found to contain 47.83 grams of 4-Fluroisobutyryl Fentanyl.

Further analysis of Thornton Watson’s cell phone showed that Darrell Watson had sent a total of 13 tracking numbers to Thornton Watson. Based on the investigation, Darrell Watson is accountable for approximately 5,382 pills containing 621.79 grams of 4-Fluroisobutyryl Fentanyl.

Thornton Watson and Shantevia Evans pleaded guilty and were sentenced in connection with this investigation. Thornton Watson was sentenced to 114 months custody (Case No. 5:18-cr-315-D-1), and Shantevia Evans was sentenced to 24 months custody (Case No. 5:18-cr-315-D-2).

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III.

Mr. Higdon commented:  “This case is a perfect example of the dangers in buying and using prescription drugs you get on the street or in some way illegally.   You have no guarantee that you are getting what you are paying for.  These pills appeared to be oxycodone – a dangerous enough drug when abused – but, in reality they were actually fentanyl analogues which could cause an unbreakable addiction and perhaps death.  Stay away from any drug not prescribed to you by a reputable and responsible doctor.”

Wake County Board of Alcoholic Control (ABC) Law Enforcement Division and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Lemmon prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-cr-00292-D-1.


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Updated October 7, 2020