Federal officials have arrested two Valley men accused of receiving a package from China containing enough of the powerful opiate fentanyl to kill hundreds of people, according to U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman.
Authorities say Michael B. Lawrence, 43, of Youngstown, and Dainon L. Jones, 37, of Girard, have been arrested and charged with attempted possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute after the men allegedly accepted a package from China that they believed contained approximately 273 grams of methoxyacetyl fentanyl.
Homeland Security Investigations special agents became aware on Nov. 20 of a suspicious package shipped by Wei Zhu of Shanghai, China, to an Erik Fields at 731 Judson Ave. in Youngstown.
Previous packages shipped by Zhu have contained large amounts fentanyl seized in Seattle, New York and Detroit, according to court documents.
The package shipped to Youngstown was labeled as containing “pants zipper”.
Authorities inspecting the package say they discovered a white powder that turned out be approximately 273 grams of methoxyacetyl fentanyl, according to court documents.
A search of law enforcement databases revealed no Erik Fields living at 731 Judson Ave.
Undercover agents made a controlled delivery to the Judson Ave. address on Wednesday.
Jones arrived at the address approximately two minutes later in a silver Mercedes, made contact with the resident, retrieved the package and drove away with it, according to investigators.
Jones drove to 3311 Idlewood in Youngstown, where he picked up Lawrence.
They drove to a nearby gas station, where Lawrence got out of the Mercedes with the package.
He took a bus to downtown Youngstown, where Jones again picked him up in his Mercedes.
They then drove together to 57 East Wilson in Girard and went inside, according to court documents.
Both Jones and Lawrence took off running as law enforcement approached the home in Girard.
Both eventually were arrested and booked into the Mahoning County jail.
“The amount of fentanyl these defendants are accused of bringing to downtown Youngstown from China could have killed hundreds of people,” said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman. “Aggressive enforcement, combined with increased prevention and education efforts, is our best chance to turn the tide on this epidemic.”
The case was investigated by Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, the TAG Drug Task Force and the DEA.
Published by wfmj.com