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Press Release

Two arrested and charged after ordering fentanyl from China

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Two men were arrested and charged with attempted possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, law enforcement officials said.

Michael B. Lawrence, 43, of Youngstown, and Dainon L. Jones, 37, of Girard, were arrested after accepting a package from China that they believed contained approximately 273 grams of methoxyacetyl fentanyl.

Homeland Security Investigations special agents became aware on Nov. 20 of a suspicious package shipped by Wei Zhu of Shanghai, China, to an Erik Fields at 731 Judson Ave. in Youngstown. Previous packages shipped by Zhu have contained large amounts fentanyl seized in Seattle, New York and Detroit, according to court documents.

The package shipped to Youngstown was labeled as containing “pants zipper”. Law enforcement examined the parcel a discovered a white powder consistent with fentanyl. A forensic test revealed the contents to be approximately 273 grams of methoxyacetyl fentanyl, according to court documents.

A search of law enforcement databases revealed no Erik Fields living at 731 Judson Ave. Undercover agents made a controlled delivery at 731 Judson Ave. on Nov. 29. Jones arrived at the address approximately two minutes later in a silver Mercedes, made contact with the resident, retrieved the package and drove away with it, according to court documents.

Jones drove to 3311 Idlewood in Youngstown, where he picked up Lawrence. They drove to a nearby gas station, where Lawrence exited the Mercedes with the package. He took a bus to downtown Youngstown, where Jones again picked him up in his Mercedes. They then drove together to 57 East Wilson in Girard and entered the front door, according to court documents.

Both Jones and Lawrence took off running as law enforcement approached the home in Girard. Both eventually were arrested, according to court documents.

“The amount of fentanyl these defendants are accused of bringing to downtown Youngstown from China could have killed hundreds of people,” said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman. “Aggressive enforcement, combined with increased prevention and education efforts, is our best chance to turn the tide on this epidemic.”

“The opioid crisis touches almost every American community,” said Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Detroit office. “HSI and our partners are proud to be at the tip of the spear, using our broad authorities to combat the groups and individuals allegedly involved in this deadly trade.”

This case was investigated by HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, the TAG Drug Task Force and the DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Toeper.

If convicted, the sentence in this case will be determined by the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which depend upon a number of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the unique characteristics of the violation.  In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

A charge is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Mike Tobin

Updated November 30, 2017

Drug Trafficking