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Press Release

Detroit Man Pleads Guilty to Fentanyl Crime

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Kristopher D. Thomas, also known as “Rio,” 22, of Detroit Michigan, pleaded guilty today to distribution of fentanyl.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on Oct. 14, 2021, Thomas sold a quantity of fentanyl to a confidential informant at an Amigo residence where Thomas was staying in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Thomas admitted to that transaction and further admitted to selling fentanyl to a confidential informant in Daniels, Raleigh County, on April 12 and April 22, 2021. The West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory confirmed the controlled substances from all three transactions contained fentanyl.

Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Unit. The Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Unit consists of officers from the West Virginia State Police, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, and the Beckley Police Department.

United States District Judge Frank W. Volk presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew D. Isabell is prosecuting the case.

The case is a result of “Operation Wolverine Carousel,” a months-long investigation into the widespread distribution of heroin and fentanyl in Raleigh and Fayette counties.

The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:22-cr-28.




Updated April 7, 2023

Drug Trafficking