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Press Release

Smithfield Man Convicted of Distributing Fentanyl Analogue That Led to Death – Faces Minimum of 20 Years in Prison

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

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – A Smithfield man was convicted by a jury today for distributing a mixture and substance containing cyclopropyl fentanyl where death resulted. Shamel Nesbitt, 32, faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for this crime, and could receive a life sentence. Nesbitt’s sentencing is scheduled for November.

“The drug dealers and criminal networks lacing fentanyl into their supply are on notice.  We will bring charges and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.  When your criminal activity leads to death, you can face up to life in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Nesbitt was investigated in November 2017 by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office for the distribution of cyclopropyl fentanyl, a fentanyl analogue, where death resulted.  The investigation began on November 19, 2017, after Lucas Urbina, 20, was rushed to the hospital by several friends after using a controlled substance and overdosing.  A second friend of Urbina’s also suffered an overdose from using the same substance.  At that time, hospital staff were able to resuscitate both Urbina and his friend.  Urbina’s friend regained consciousness and became stable after a short period of time.  He left the hospital and was approached by law enforcement when he was attempting to get into a vehicle.  He was searched and law enforcement discovered he had a bag of suspected narcotics along with two syringes.

While Urbina was revived, he never regained consciousness.  Urbina died on November 22, 2017. 

Sample of Urbina’s blood taken upon admission to the hospital were sent to the toxicology section of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to see what substances were present.  Test results showed a lethal level of cyclopropyl fentanyl.  Urbina also had low levels of morphine and clonazepam in his blood.  Urbina’s death was ruled an accidental overdose. 

The bag of suspected narcotics that was found on Urbina’s friend immediately following the overdose was tested at the DEA Lab.  It was found to contain a mixture of heroin, cyclopropyl fentanyl, benzoyl fentanyl and caffeine. 

Law enforcement immediately began investigating to determine who distributed the narcotics to Urbina and his friends.  Text messages and dialed phone numbers showed Urbina was reaching out to someone listed as “Mista” in his phone.  Officers were able to quickly link the number to Shamel Nesbitt who had given it to law enforcement as his number when he was cited for a traffic violation a few months earlier.  Law enforcement officers were able to access Urbina’s Facebook account and saw he was communicating with another Facebook user with a name of “Chris Nesbitt.”  In the Facebook messages between Urbina and Nesbitt, it was clear Urbina was attempting to buy drugs from Nesbitt.  Officers got a search warrant for Nesbitt’s Facebook page.  They noticed pictures posted by “Chris Nesbitt” were of Shamel Nesbitt.  Multiple messages on Nesbitt’s Facebook page reference him by the nickname “Mista.” Law enforcement received a search warrant for Nesbitt’s home and found heroin packaging material, nitrile gloves and marijuana. 

Nesbitt made statements to law enforcement that he saw Urbina that day but didn’t sell him any narcotics.    

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after the trial was concluded.  U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle presided over the trial.  The Smithfield Police Department and the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charity Wilson and Brandon Boykin prosecuted the case.

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-00226-BO.

Updated August 31, 2022