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Press Release

Lincoln Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Fentanyl Resulting in Death and Serious Injuries

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

Acting United States Attorney Susan Lehr announced that Russell L. Rucks, Sr., 52, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was sentenced today to 26 years’ imprisonment, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and a detectable amount of fentanyl, resulting in the death of one person and serious bodily injuries to two others, by Senior United States District Judge John M. Gerrard.  Following his release from prison, Rucks will serve five years on supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.  Rucks will also forfeit $5,084.00 in cash to the United States of America, and he was ordered to pay $9,700.00 in restitution to the mother of victim who died.

On July 24, 2021, a Lincoln woman called 911 after her fiancé collapsed after returning home from a trip to a gas station.  Lincoln Fire and Rescue, (LFR), arrived and performed lifesaving measures, including administering two doses of Narcan.  After the second dose of Narcan, the victim began to regain consciousness and was transported to a Lincoln hospital.  The victim later told investigators he had been purchasing small amounts of cocaine about every seven to 10 days from Russell Rucks, Sr. for about a year.  Just before his overdose, he said he met with Rucks and bought $20 worth of what he believed to be cocaine.  He snorted the cocaine and suffered an overdose.  Phone records for the victim and Rucks confirmed the victim had been communicating about drug transactions.  A medical expert reviewed first responder and hospital records for the victim and found he faced a substantial risk of death had he not been given Narcan.


On July 27, 2021, two Lincoln men overdosed at a residence in Lincoln.  Both were found unconscious.  Both were given Narcan and were hospitalized.  One of the victims died on August 19, 2021, but the other victim eventually recovered.  The surviving victim told investigators he pooled money with the victim who died, and they bought what they believed to be cocaine from Rucks. The surviving victim said he and the victim who died both used the “cocaine” which led to their overdoses.  Investigators found phone messages between the surviving victim and Rucks on the day of the overdoses in which the surviving victim arranged to meet with Rucks.  Several items of drug paraphernalia, all containing drug residue, were seized from the residence where the two victims were found, and lab testing showed these items all contained cocaine and fentanyl.  A medical expert reviewed the first responder and hospital records for both victims determined that one victim died due to ingesting cocaine laced with fentanyl and the other was seriously injured due to ingesting those substances.


On August 11, 2021, Rucks was arrested and found in possession of a small amount of cocaine.  On the same day, his son, Russell Rucks, Jr., was also arrested and was found in possession of $1,634 in cash.  A search warrant was executed at their Lincoln residence which resulted in the finding of 6.8 pounds of cocaine, a scale, and $3,950 in currency.  Rucks, Sr. waived his Miranda rights and told investigators he had been selling what he believed to be cocaine in the months prior to his arrest. 

Russell Rucks, Jr., faces similar charges and is awaiting trial currently scheduled to begin in October of 2023.

This case was investigated by the Lincoln/Lancaster County Narcotics Task Force (Lincoln Police Department, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and UNL Police Department) and the Nebraska State Patrol.


Matt Lierman - Chief, Drug Enforcement Unit

Updated July 24, 2023