Feds bust cross-county fentanyl ring in investigation that started with DC mother's death

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More than 20 people from California to D.C. were indicted in a fentanyl distribution ring after a two-year investigation that started with the fatal overdose of a young mother in Washington.

Federal officials seized thousands of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, cash and guns as part of the multiagency investigation into what prosecutors say was a nationwide conspiracy to sell the deadly drug to unsuspecting people.

“This was a conspiracy that flooded the District of Columbia with fake pills containing fentanyl, dangerously marked, as they so often are, with M30 imprints to resemble legally manufactured oxycodone,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said. “As alleged, these coconspirators brought large quantities of fentanyl pills into our community, largely from California, smuggling them on planes and shipping them through the mail.”

The investigation began after the death of 20-year-old Diamond Lynch, who overdosed in 2021 after taking a pill laced with the deadly drug. The brother and sister who sold Lynch the drugs have already been charged and convicted in her death.

Graves said the new defendants had enough pills to kill thousands.

“In this case alone, we have seized to date over 20 kilograms of fentanyl powder and approximately a quarter million pills,” he said. “We know that drug trafficking on this scale is a magnet for violence, and we have predictably also seized a large number of firearms, over 30 firearms to date, including six machine guns.”

This year, more people have died from fentanyl overdoses in the District than homicides, Graves said. As of Monday, there have been 247 homicides in D.C. compared to almost 300 fatal overdoses as of the end of July.

Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram called fentanyl the most devastating drug crisis our nation has ever seen.

“Fentanyl is the greatest threat to Americans today,” she said. “It is devastating families across our country and killing Americans from all walks of life. And it is the leading cause of death today in the United States for Americans between the age of 18 and 45.”

D.C.’s Department of Behavioral Health distributes free fentanyl test strips and free naloxone, which can be used to save someone experiencing an overdose.

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