Youngstown men indicted for conspiring to order fentanyl from China to be sold in the Youngstown area
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio
Two Youngstown men were indicted on charges of conspiring to order fentanyl from China to be distributed in the Youngstown area, said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman.
Dainon L. Jones, 37, and Michael B. Lawrence, 43, were both indicted for drug trafficking violations.
Jones and Lawrence conspired to possess with the intent to distribute more than 40 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl in November 2017. It was part of the conspiracy that Jones ordered fentanyl to be sent through the U.S. mail from China to Ohio. It was further part of the conspiracy that Lawrence wired money from Ohio to China to pay for the fentanyl, according to the indictment.
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.
An indictment is only a charge and 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.
Updated December 14, 2017