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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 9, 2018

Seattle Man Who Distributed Deadly Fentanyl Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison

Over One Year Imported more than 70 Shipments of Fentanyl Analogues from China for Distribution in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood

A Seattle man who distributed narcotics, including deadly fentanyl analogues imported from China, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 12 years in prison announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  GREGORY L. SMITH, 34, was arrested in August 2017, following an investigation that traced more than 70 shipments of fentanyl analogues from China to SMITH.  When law enforcement searched the home SMITH shared with his wife and young daughter they found fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, thousands of pills of oxycodone and sixteen firearms strewn throughout the house.  The law enforcement investigation tied an April 2017 death to the fentanyl SMITH distributed in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.  “He was a drug dealer dealing poison to people that killed them on the streets,” said U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik. “He is one of the menaces to society that is peddling poison.”

“Not only was this defendant a major dealer of fentanyl and other opioids on Capitol Hill, he kept selling even after learning his drugs had caused an overdose death,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “Fentanyl is a killer that regularly leaves misery in its wake.  We will continue to seek long sentences for anyone who profits from selling this terrible drug in our western Washington communities.”

According to records filed in the case, SMITH used bitcoin to pay for shipments of fentanyl from China that were delivered to his home or a post office box.  The toxic fentanyl was so powerful that the powder – that can be absorbed through the skin – could kill with a single touch.  Following an overdose death in April 2017, the fentanyl involved was traced to SMITH due in part to its distinctive packaging and to text messages recovered that showed SMITH knew the drugs he provided were linked to the deadly overdose.  SMITH continued to import and distribute the drugs even after the death.  In addition to 33 packages of fentanyl recovered from SMITH’s home, law enforcement seized more than $773,000 in cash and seized cryptocurrency worth $95,000.  In all, law enforcement has seized more than $1 million from SMITH in connection with his drug dealing.

“The accused was leader of an international drug trafficking conspiracy that inundated our streets with the deadliest of illicit drugs solely out of greed for personal profit.   HSI is committed to doing its part, along with our law enforcement partners, to hold those who place our communities in danger accountable to the fullest extent of our federal laws,” said Brad Bench, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Seattle.  “Fentanyl, 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, often leads to overdose and death.  Thanks to the collaboration between HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Seattle Police Department, FBI and other local law enforcement agencies, American lives have been saved.”

SMITH was indicted in September 2017, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

“Battling synthetic opioids entering the US through international mail is one of the Postal Inspection Service’s highest priorities.  Through the hard work and dedication of Bellevue Police Department, Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a principal dealer of opioids in the Seattle region was identified, arrested, and prosecuted to the fully extent of the law,” said Anthony Galetti, Inspector in Charge of U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Seattle Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service continues to pursue traffickers of all illegal substances with the goal to inhibit the spread of illegal substances and to protect the employees and customers of the U.S. Postal Service from violence related to trafficking.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with significant assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Seattle Police Department, and Bellevue Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Silvio and Assistant United States Attorney Marie Dalton.  Mr. Silvio is an attorney with Homeland Security Investigations specially designated to prosecute cross border cases in federal court.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated November 9, 2018