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Press Release

Michigan Man Pleads Guilty to Sending Fentanyl to Dubuque Overdose Victim

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Thought He Was Sending a Hallucinogenic Drug That Turned Out to be Fentanyl

A man who ordered drugs from the dark web and had them shipped to a friend in Dubuque, who died after using the drugs, pled guilty on June 14, 2018, in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Jay Rickert, age 28, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was convicted of willfully causing the distribution of a controlled substance.

At the plea hearing, Rickert admitted that in February 2015, he caused a controlled substance to be shipped from a supplier in Canada to a woman in Dubuque, Iowa.  According to information disclosed at the plea hearing, Rickert intended to order DMT, a Schedule I hallucinogenic drug, from the dark web and have it shipped to his friend in Dubuque.  The supplier in Canada instead shipped the woman fentanyl, a different controlled substance.  A criminal complaint previously filed against Rickert indicated that fentanyl and DMT are both white powdery substances that look virtually identical.  According to the criminal complaint, the woman, believing that the substance Rickert ordered for her was DMT, used the fentanyl and died.  An autopsy concluded that the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose.   

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Rickert was taken into custody by the United States Marshal after the guilty plea and will remain in custody pending sentencing.  Rickert faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and at least 3 years and up to a lifetime term of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Lightfoot and was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Dubuque Drug Task Force, consisting of the Dubuque Police Department and the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office. 

Court file information at

The case file numbers are 18-MJ-56 and 18-CR-1008.

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Updated June 15, 2018

Drug Trafficking