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Press Release

Dubuque Man Who Sold Opioids that Caused Fatal Overdose Sentenced to 20 Years’ Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Sold Purported Heroin that was Actually More Dangerous Opioids to a Woman, Causing her Death

A man who sold a fatal opioid cocktail was sentenced October 14, 2020, to 20 years in federal prison.

Carl Ravon Watkins, age 30, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after a June 17, 2020 guilty plea to one count of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death.

In a plea agreement, Watkins admitted that in August 2019, a woman called and texted him looking for heroin.  Watkins met with the woman and her boyfriend in on Wilson Avenue in Dubuque.  Watkins got into the woman’s car and sold her what was supposedly heroin.  The woman took the mixture home, used it later that night, and lost consciousness.  Her boyfriend found her hours later, unconscious and not breathing.  Emergency responders arrived, but were unable to revive the woman and she was pronounced dead.  An autopsy determined that the woman’s death was caused by mixed drug toxicity, specifically from fentanyl and an analogue of fentanyl called acetyl fentanyl.  During a search of the woman’s bedroom, officers found a chunky white substance that tested positive for fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl.

Watkins also admitted that the day after the woman’s death, the Dubuque Drug Task Force set up a controlled meeting with Watkins to attempt to purchase $80 of purported heroin from him.  When Watkins arrived at the location on Wilson Avenue in Dubuque, officers arrested him.  During his arrest, Wilson dropped a baggie containing about a quarter gram of fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl.

Watkins was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Watkins was sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment.  He was ordered to make $7,233 in restitution to the victim’s family for funeral expenses.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Watkins is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-CR-01043-CJW-MAR.

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Updated October 15, 2020

Drug Trafficking