CHICAGO — An Ohio man will be arraigned today on a federal drug charge in the first Chicago-area prosecution related to the synthetic opioid carfentanil.
CLIFFORD REED allegedly purchased multi-kilogram quantities of heroin from various sources in Chicago, and then mixed it with carfentanil to increase the amount of heroin he could distribute. Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid listed federally as a Schedule II controlled substance. The drug is approximately 100 times stronger than fentanyl and approximately 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil is most frequently used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large mammals in zoos and wildlife environments.
Reed, 27, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury in Chicago on one count of distributing a kilogram or more of a substance containing a mixture of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. His arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today before U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The Illinois State Police provided assistance in the investigation.
“Investigating heroin and opioid trafficking is the number one narcotics enforcement priority in our office,” said U.S. Attorney Fardon. “Carfentanil-laced narcotics pose an extremely serious threat to our communities, and anyone who attempts to distribute it will be held accountable.”
“Carfentanil is an insidious opioid with deadly consequences for users and first responders alike,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Gibbons. “This is the first carfentanil case to be charged in federal court here, clearly demonstrating the tenacity with which HSI is combatting the ongoing epidemic affecting our country. We are committed to protecting public safety by keeping this dangerous substance out of our communities and holding those responsible for fueling this public health crisis to the fullest extent of the law.”
The federal investigation revealed that Reed traveled to the South Side of Chicago earlier this year to distribute carfentanil-laced heroin to an individual who, unbeknownst to Reed, was cooperating with law enforcement, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit previously filed in the case. The transaction between Reed and the cooperating source occurred on Sept. 9, 2016, in a vehicle near 93rd Street and Stony Island Avenue, the complaint states. Shortly after the audio-recorded deal, law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle and arrested Reed on an outstanding warrant from Ohio, the complaint states. The officers seized from the vehicle approximately one kilogram of the carfentanil-laced heroin, according to the complaint.
Federal authorities recently took custody of Reed and transported him to Chicago for the arraignment. His indictment marks the first time a defendant has been charged in the Northern District of Illinois with distributing carfentanil-laced heroin.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The distribution count in the indictment is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Hotaling.