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Press Release

Convicted Felon Sentenced to 130 Months in Federal Prison for Distributing Fentanyl while Possessing a Firearm

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


Memphis, TN - Zacharia Mitchell, 31, has been sentenced to 130 months in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and for a being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the sentence today.

According to information presented in court, on January 11, 2018, while conducting a drug transaction for an ounce of heroin in the parking lot of a Memphis area Kroger, Mitchell and two other individuals were arrested. Officers with the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit were on the scene and witnessed the drug transaction. The defendant Mitchell handed a white powdery substance out of his window in exchange for cash.

When the defendants were arrested, Mitchell ran and was apprehended in the parking lot of the Kroger by law enforcement. Another individual ran into the Kroger store, throwing his gun under a fruit stand as he fled. All three individuals were eventually apprehended. Mitchell was found to possess a 9 mm handgun at the time of the drug transaction. The gun was found in the driver's side floorboard, where he had been sitting prior to his arrest. As a result of Mitchell’s prior felony convictions for Facilitation of Aggravated Robbery and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver, as well as prior misdemeanor convictions for Domestic Violence, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law.

A laboratory test confirmed that the recovered drugs were an ounce of fentanyl rather than the heroin that was originally requested. One dosage unit of heroin is approximately one tenth of a

gram. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin. One ounce of fentanyl is enough to kill or cause serious bodily injury to hundreds of people.

On Monday, July 22, 2019, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Jon P. McCalla sentenced Mitchell to 130 months in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "This offender presented a triple threat of serious bodily injury and death: a prior convicted felon in possession of a loaded firearm while distributing the most deadly and addictive substance on the streets. This sentence protects the community by incapacitating a repeat dangerous offender, and achieves justice by providing proper punishment according to law."

This case was investigated by the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

This case was part of the West Tennessee Heroin Initiative, a collaboration of local and federal law enforcement that prosecutes opioid cases in West Tennessee.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Griffith prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.


Updated July 23, 2019