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Press Release

Two Former Camp Lejeune Marines Sentenced to Federal Prison for Distributing Oxycodone and Fentanyl Linked to Fellow Marine’s Death

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

RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, Chief United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced ANTHONY P. TOGNIETTI, 27, of Paradise, California, and Marcos jamie villegas, 24, of St. Charles, Illinois, for distributing a quantity of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of oxycodone and fentanyl, and aiding and abetting.  TOGNIETTI was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release and VILLEGAS was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Both TOGNIETTI and VILLEGAS were recently separated from the United States Marine Corps as a result of their federal prosecution.

According to the investigation, on April 14, 2017, a United States Marine Corporal  and VILLEGAS were visiting at a local residence in Richlands, North Carolina.  During the party, VILLEGAS provided the Corporal with pills that he and TOGNIETTI had purchased over the dark web.  The pills had been advertised as oxycodone laced with fentanyl, a highly powerful opiate that can be lethal in even small doses.  In the early hours of April 15, 2017, VILLEGAS discovered the Corporal unresponsive.  The Corporal was taken to Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and died shortly after his arrival.  The Corporal’s autopsy revealed his cause of death as fentanyl overdose and low alcohol content.  The Corporal was just 20 years old at the time of his death.

Investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) revealed that just a few weeks later, similar pills were seized from VILLEGAS’s barracks room.  The pills were later sent off for testing and came back positive for fentanyl.  Examination of VILLEGAS’s cellular phone revealed text messages discussing purchases of drugs.  Further coordination by NCIS with the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration linked the pills purchased by VILLEGAS and TOGNIETTI to a manufacturer and dark web distributor in Texas.  That man, Alaa Mohammed Allawi, 30, was later charged and pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl resulting in death or serious bodily injury and using a gun during a drug crime.  He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.  As part of the deal, Allawi agreed to be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Laura S. Howard represented the government.

Updated December 17, 2019