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Reno man sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute synthetic opioid drug U-47700

(RENO, Nev.) - A Reno man was sentenced today to 144 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute U-47700, a dangerous synthetic opioid with street names “China White” and “Pinky” that is more potent than morphine, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Neill for the DEA’s Las Vegas office.

Randy Ray Paulsen, aka “Frank,” 41, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Miranda M. Du. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute U-47700, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to admissions made in the plea agreement, Paulsen and a co-conspirator agreed to sell one pound of U-47700, a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substance Act, for $8,000. He arranged the sale with the buyer and his co-defendant via text messaging. On February 10, 2017, the co-conspirator left the one pound of U-47700 in a plastic bag in one of the washing machines at a laundromat on 5th Street, in Reno, which is near the Gold Dust West casino. Paulsen watched the events from a nearby location. As law enforcement approached, he texted his co-defendant, “Leave, setup, all bad,” and “911 leave.” Law enforcement found 445.2 grams of U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl, an analogue of fentanyl, in the plastic bag left in the washing machine.

During the execution of a search warrant at Paulsen’s residence, in a safe concealed in the ceiling of his bedroom, law enforcement discovered: 121.65 grams of U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl; 51.6 grams of methamphetamine; 7.82 grams of heroin; 206.9 grams of dimethyl sulfone (which can be used as a cutting agent for drugs); baggies; cash; and a .40 caliber pistol.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Keller prosecuted the case.

Controlled substance analogues are designer drugs that have chemical structures and hallucinogenic effects similar to Schedule I controlled substances. U-47700 is a synthetic opioid that is 7-8 times more potent than morphine. The illegal drug looks like a white or light pink powder and poses the same risks as heroin and prescription opioids.

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