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Press Release

Prolific Snohomish County fentanyl dealer sentenced to 15 years in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant recruited and managed addicts as his distribution network, making big money off of their fentanyl addiction

Seattle – The head of a drug distribution ring who was convicted at trial of drug and gun crimes was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to15  years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  RHETT IRONS, 41, of Lynnwood, Washington was convicted on December 12, 2019, of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl pills, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones noted that fentanyl is probably the most dangerous drug being sold right now, and noted that IRONS had guns and drugs accessible to children. “You were the clear leader of a  drug trafficking organization,” Judge Jones said.

“This defendant exploited others’ addictions so he could live a life of luxury,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.  “Testimony at trial revealed he got his dealers and customers hooked on fentanyl – a powerful and potentially fatal opioid – all so he could make more money and have the cars and vacations he thought he deserved.”

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, in February 2018, the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force began targeting organizations distributing fentanyl pills throughout the north sound region.  IRONS was a leader of one of the organizations.  He had originally trafficked oxycodone pills, but switched to trafficking fentanyl – a stronger and cheaper pill – that he rebranded as “supers".  It was also more deadly.  To maximize profits and to protect him from law enforcement scrutiny, IRONS fronted the pills to his distributors and took the profits afterwards allowing the addicts to have a cut of the profits.  Many distributors used that profit to buy from IRONS to support their own addiction. During this time, agents also learned of a luxury home IRONS rented in Bothell dubbed “the mansion” by his distributors.  The house had a pool, hot tub and tennis courts – IRONS allowed some of his dealers to live at the home, and stored pills and firearms there.

Law enforcement used confidential sources and an undercover agent to make purchases from IRONS.  In February 2019, law enforcement searched IRONS’ residence in Lynnwood.

At IRONS’ home agents found a loaded Glock semiautomatic pistol and additional magazines under a mattress in the master bedroom.  They found more pills and more than $50,000 in cash.  In the basement where IRONS allowed another redistributor to live, agents found a gun safe with eight firearms including three assault rifles.  IRONS has prior felony convictions, which preclude him from possessing firearms.

During the investigation, law enforcement confirmed that a former drug customer of IRONS died in April 2018 from acute fentanyl intoxication.  It is unknown whether fentanyl purchased from IRONS caused the death.

“Today, the head of this poisonous snake was cut off,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge SAC Keith Weis.  “Irons directed dozens of individuals dealing thousands of fentanyl pills onto the streets of the north sound communities that endangered all it touched, in the name of greed.”   

In asking the court for a 17-year prison term, prosecutors wrote to the Court:  “This Defendant has altered the lives of countless individuals. He created addictions. He fed addictions. …This Court will never know all of the lives shattered by Defendant’s greed. There is no way to provide his victims with restitution. There is no way to know the number of families Defendant destroyed, the individuals he left addicted, or even the deaths connected to his organization.”

Following his prison term, IRONS will be on federal supervision for five years.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force.  Both the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives were key investigative partners.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lisca Borichewski and Chantelle Dial.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated March 9, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses