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Lubbock Fentanyl Distributor Pleads Guilty

FEB 16 (LUBBOCK, Texas) - Sidney Caleb Lanier, 36, of Lubbock, Texas, pleaded guilty this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant Jr. to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Lanier faces a statutory sentence of not more than 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.  Judge Bryant recommended that the district court accept Lanier’s guilty plea.  If the district court accepts the plea, it will order a presentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be set after the completion of the report.  Lanier has been in custody since his arrest in October 2016 following a law enforcement operation led by Lubbock Police Department and special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration focused on the distribution in the Lubbock area of the highly potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl.  Fentanyl is responsible for a sharp increase in opioid deaths across the U.S.  It poses a high risk of death not only to users, but also to law enforcement personnel.

While fentanyl can serve as a direct substitute for heroin in opioid-dependent individuals, it is a dangerous substitute as it is 50 times more potent than heroin and results in frequent overdoses that can lead to respiratory depression and death.  Cheaper than heroin, fentanyl can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin; just a few milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of table salt, may be deadly.

Two additional defendants charged in the case, Jessica Christine Holl, 28, and Jamie Marie Robertson, 32, are scheduled for trial on April 3, 2017.

According to documents filed in this case, from approximately January 2013 to October 27, 2016 on Lanier, Holl, and Robertson did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate and agree with each other and with persons known and unknown to knowingly and intentionally distribute and possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance.  Lanier admits to supplying Holl and Robertson with large amounts of Fentanyl he purchased online on the Darknet from China using Bitcoin, a digital currency.  The Fentanyl was shipped to various addresses in the Lubbock area, prepared by the defendants and sold for use.    

The case is being investigated by the Lubbock Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Haag is in charge of the prosecution.

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