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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fentanyl Dealer Pleads Guilty To Drug Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray Announces the Western District’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Fentanyl dealer Dennis Darnell Sturdivant, 39, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler today, and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute Fentanyl, and distribution and possession with intent to distribute Fentanyl, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. Sturdivant, a designated Career Offender, is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 months in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

According to filed plea documents and today’s plea hearing, in 2015, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) learned that Sturdivant was selling heroin and Fentanyl in the greater Charlotte area.  Court records show that between 2015 and up until he was arrested in October 2018, Sturdivant made multiple Fentanyl drug sales, and sold approximately forty-seven (47) grams of Fentanyl.  According to today’s plea hearing and admissions he made in court, Sturdivant was on supervised release for a previous federal drug conviction when he was arrested on the new charges.  As part of the plea agreement, Sturdivant also forfeited over $88,000 in drug proceeds, found inside his residence.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Clandestinely-produced Fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually do not know that they are purchasing Fentanyl, often resulting in overdose deaths. Additional information including a Fentanyl fact sheet can be found here.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray Announces the Western District’s Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (H.O.P.E.) Task Force

Today, U.S. Attorney Murray announced the formation of the Western District’s Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (H.O.P.E.) Task Force.  This multi-agency team of experienced federal and state investigators located in the Western District of North Carolina will work with federal criminal prosecutors and attorneys to identify abusive practices by participants in the opioid pharmaceutical supply chain, and prosecute drug trafficking networks that distribute lethal heroin and opioids into our communities.  The H.O.P.E. Task Force brings together multiple federal and state agencies to bring the full force of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement efforts against doctors, pharmacies, pill mills, and other participants in irresponsible and reckless distribution of opioids in the Western District.

The Task Force will focus on coordinating investigations, information sharing, identifying trends throughout the region, investigating whistleblower complaints, and the creation of cross-agency investigative teams so each agency task force member can bring its area of expertise on investigations.  

The Task Force builds upon existing partnerships between the agencies, and its work reflects a heightened effort to reduce heroin and opioid abuse, to increase prevention through outreach efforts, and to educate the public about the dangers of counterfeit drugs, heroin abuse and opioid addiction.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division, and the North Carolina Department of Insurance, among others, which are members of the H.O.P.E. Task Force.

“The mission of the H.O.P.E. Task Force is to save lives,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.  “Heroin and opioid abuse are a real public health crisis that threatens the stability of our communities. We must act now. I want to thank all partner agencies on the task force for contributing their unique expertise and resources in our fight against this epidemic, and for their unwavering commitment to protecting our communities from the devastation of heroin and opioid abuse and addiction.”

U.S. Attorney Murray also thanked CMPD for handling the investigation into Sturdivant, with the assistance of the DEA. Assistant United States Attorney Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is in charge of Sturdivant’s prosecution.

Drug Trafficking
Updated June 25, 2019