August 23, 2016
Contact: Special Agent Cheryl Davis
Phone Number: (313) 234-4000
Five Kentucky Defendants Convicted And Sentenced For Supplying Drugs That Resulted In Overdose Deaths
DEA and U.S. Attorney’s Office announce success of Overdose Prosecution Initiative
LEXINGTON, Ky. - In early 2015, as part of a comprehensive approach to combat the opioid epidemic facing the state of Kentucky, the United States Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA) established an Overdose Prosecution Initiative, which has become an important tool in the battle against illegal drug trafficking in Kentucky.
Under federal law, defendants convicted of drug trafficking, involving a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, which results in a death or serious bodily (i.e., an overdose), are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Relying on this sentencing provision, the United States Attorney’s Office and the DEA, developed a plan to increase the use of this penalty provision to increase the cooperation between federal and state law enforcement and community partners. The plan also implemented training for state and local partners on building effective cases for prosecution, and to enhance the law enforcement response to the growing heroin and opioid abuse epidemic.
This month, three important convictions were obtained in local overdose cases, demonstrating the effectiveness of this valuable law enforcement tool. Each of the cases highlights an important aspect of the prosecution initiative and the critical nature of the opioid epidemic.
In an investigation in Woodford County, the initiative has now resulted in the conviction of both Luis Aguirre-Jerardo and Gill Dewayne Garrett. These men admitted that, in July 2015, they distributed a counterfeit pain pill to a Woodford County woman, who consumed the pill and subsequently died of an overdose. The pill, made to look like Oxycodone, instead contained fentanyl, a powerful opioid as much as 100 times more potent than morphine. The investigation established that Aguirre-Jerardo was a major distributor of these deadly counterfeit pills in Central Kentucky. This case, one of the first to arise from the training provided under the initiative, represents the first time the office has prosecuted not only the street-level dealer, but also his up-the-chain source of supply, for the same overdose. Both men now face more than 20 years in federal prison.
A second investigation produced the conviction of several members of an organization responsible for trafficking in large amounts of heroin and fentanyl in Madison County. Two of these defendants, Navarius Westberry and Benjamin Fredrick Charles Robinson, were convicted of distributing drugs that resulted in an overdose - in Westberry’s case, a fatal overdose. Collectively, this organization was responsible for distributing between 750 and 1,000 grams of heroin and 50 grams of fentanyl in Madison County. Both also face at least 20 years in federal prison.
A third investigation produced the conviction of Fred Rebmann. Rebmann admitted that he distributed fentanyl to a Lexington woman, who was several months pregnant at the time, causing her death. This case places the tragic scope of this epidemic in clear focus and underscores the critical need to continue efforts to educate the public and enhance law enforcement efforts to battle this growing problem.
Since its inception, the Overdose Prosecution Initiative has led to convictions against numerous drug traffickers who, collectively, are responsible for enormous quantities of dangerous drugs and many overdose deaths in Kentucky. These most recent successes evidence the scope of this growing problem, the effectiveness of the Overdose Prosecution Initiative, and the need for a comprehensive approach to combatting this serious opioid epidemic.