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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ohio man responsible for Huntington overdoses pleads guilty to federal heroin crime

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An Ohio man who was responsible for numerous overdoses in Huntington in August 2016 pleaded guilty today, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Bruce Lamar Griggs, also known as “Ben” and “Benz,” 22, of Akron, entered his guilty plea to distribution of heroin.

On the afternoon of August 15, 2016, Griggs went to the area of 914 Marcum Terrace in Huntington and sold heroin to a number of individuals. Several of those individuals provided information to the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force indicating that they bought what they believed to be heroin from someone they knew as “Benz” or “Ben.” Ultimately, those individuals identified Griggs as “Benz” or “Ben.” Approximately 26 individuals who bought heroin from Griggs that afternoon suffered overdoses very shortly after using the drug. Many of the overdose victims required medical attention, which involved taking blood and urine samples. Laboratory tests on those samples indicated the presence of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil. Carfentanil is an opioid that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and is used as an elephant tranquilizer. Griggs admitted that he was responsible for the overdoses and, in his plea agreement, further stipulated to a sentencing enhancement as a result.

Griggs faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 10, 2017.

The Huntington FBI Drug Task Force led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney R. Gregory McVey is in charge of the prosecution. Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the plea hearing.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District.

Drug Trafficking
Updated January 9, 2017