November 12, 2015
Contact: Brian McNeal
Phone Number: (571) 362-1498
Two Kentucky Men Charged With Illegal Distribution Of Fentanyl Resulting In Death
Charges stem from joint investigation between DEA and the Versailles Police Department
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Lexington man and a Versailles man have both been charged with unlawfully distributing a controlled substance resulting in an overdose death.
On November 5, 2015, a superseding federal indictment was returned against Luis Aguirre-Jerardo, of Lexington, and Gill Dewayne Garrett, of Versailles, charging both men with illegally distributing fentanyl resulting in a death. Garrett was named in the original indictment, returned on September 3, 2015.
Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous opioid, with a level of potency 30-50 times greater than heroin. According to the indictment, on or about July 1, 2015, Aguirre-Jerardo and Garrett unlawfully distributed fentanyl to a Woodford County woman who died as a result of using the drug they supplied. The indictment also alleges that from June 2015, until October 2015, Aguirre-Jerardo, Garrett, and two others, Allen P. White and Helaina Gracelyn Naehring, conspired to illegally distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine in Woodford County.
Fentanyl is the most potent opioid used in medical treatment and is occasionally diverted from legitimate sources for illicit use. However, most fentanyl sold on the street is manufactured for illicit use by drug cartels. Frequently, the drug user believes they are using heroin or narcotic pain pills because illicit fentanyl is often made to closely resemble those substances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned of the increased presence of fentanyl on our streets and the resulting heightened risk of overdose fatalities. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’(DEA) Office of Diversion Control reports a dramatic increase in the number of seizures of illicit fentanyl in recent years, indicating the rising availability of the drug on our streets. The reports indicate that 80% of fentanyl seizures in 2014 were concentrated in ten states. Kentucky was one of those “top ten” states.
This indictment is the result of an initiative launched by the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the DEA. The initiative seeks to establish enhanced partnerships with participating state and local law enforcement agencies and county coroners, in order to aggressively investigate and prosecute illegal drug trafficking that results in an overdose.
Under federal law, defendants guilty of illegal drug trafficking resulting in death or serious injury are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. If the defendant has a prior felony conviction for a drug offense, the mandatory sentence is life imprisonment. The Versailles Police Department, a local partner in this initiative, investigated the case in conjunction with the DEA, leading to the charges against both the Lexington and Versailles defendants.
“Cases such as this one are precisely why we launched our initiative to partner with state and local law enforcement agencies in order to bring to justice the drug dealers who are causing so much damage in our region,” said Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “The growing heroin problem, coupled with the introduction of substantial quantities of fentanyl to Lexington, Versailles, and other communities in Central Kentucky, marks a deadly turn in the drug threat confronting our region. Traffickers in heroin and fentanyl callously profit from the misery of others. With increasing frequency, the results are deadly. There is no stronger tool in our arsenal than the federal prosecution of drug traffickers whose criminal conduct results in an overdose. Effective use of that tool requires close cooperation between federal, state and local authorities. Our colleagues in the Versailles Police Department answered our call to action, and we are deeply appreciative. Because of their superb police work, these two defendants, who we allege to be purveyors of substantial quantities of deadly drugs, have been removed from the streets of Lexington and Versailles,”
U.S. Attorney Harvey, Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’(DEA) Detroit Field Division, and John Wilhoit, Chief of the Versailles Police Department, jointly announced the indictment.
Aguirre-Jerardo and Garrett face a minimum of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.
An indictment is an allegation only. All defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial, at which the government must prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.