New defendant pleads guilty in conspiracy involving $44 million in drug proceeds laundered to Mexico through local cell phone store fronts
CINCINNATI – A federal grand jury today indicted two Cincinnati residents, alleging that they distributed heroin laced with carfentanil, a substance 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, causing serious physical harm to people who bought the drugs.
Benjamin C. Glassman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Detroit Field Division, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, other members of the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force including the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification in Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office, and Springfield Township Police Department Chief Robert Browder announced the indictment.
The seven-count indictment alleges that Phillip Watkins, 31, and Jeanetta Crawford, 26, conspired in August 2016 to sell heroin from their residence in the Elmwood Place neighborhood of Cincinnati and that the drugs they sold resulted in serious physical harm including non-fatal overdoses to users.
Task force officers arrested Watkins and Crawford on a federal complaint on September 15 and brought them before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie K. Bowman, who ordered them held without bond.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants distributed heroin containing fentanyl and carfentanil,” Glassman said. “The indictment also charges the defendants with conspiracy and operating drug-involved premises. Each defendant faces a mandatory minimum 20-year sentence and up to life in prison if convicted of conspiring to deal drugs that resulted in serious physical injury.”
According to the DEA, carfentanil is an analogue of fentanyl and is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Carfentanil is used in veterinary practice to immobilize large animals.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon stated, “As the DEA Special Agent in Charge of an area that incorporates Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, a week does not pass without me hearing from or about families who have been affected by the opioid epidemic. It is the job of the Drug Enforcement Administration to identify, target, disrupt, and dismantle drug trafficking organizations at the local, state, and international level. The DEA is working hand in hand with our local partners in this ongoing fight. When a drug trafficking organization distributes opioid based drugs that result in an overdose or a death, the traffickers are drawing undue attention onto themselves. The DEA is prioritizing our resources to target these traffickers for the harm that they inflict on the people who are battling addiction.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott will preside over the case and schedule the next court hearings. Acting U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy D. Oakley, who is representing the United States in this case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.