Four residents of Lubbock have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute furanyl fentanyl, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.
Two of the four people whose arrest came as far back as 2016 for their role in a fentanyl trafficking conspiracy appeared in federal court on Wednesday to face federal trafficking charges.
23-year-old Ashlyn Paige Utley alongside Peyton Cleveland Wilson, 27, made their initial appearances in a Lubbock federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant on an indictment involving fentanyl distribution charges filed against them on the 8th of November. Both defendants are expected to remain in custody, pending trial.
Steven Lawrence Forcum, 32 and Krisandrea Monee Dobbs, 31 are the other two in addition to Utley and Wilson to be charged by the four-count indictment. Utley and Wilson received an additional charge with one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute furanyl fentanyl, with Wilson again getting charged with one count of possession of a firearm connected to a drug trafficking crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Lorfing read the indictment in court even though online court records showed them to be sealed.
Law enforcement officials arrested Forcum and Dobbs on the 14th of November and were arraigned last week.
During the drug raid which led to the arrest of culprits, Peyton Wilson, was shot by a SWAT officer. Reports from the police state that Wilson was armed with a pistol at the time of the search warrant for the raid which happened in 2200 block of 2nd Place. Wilson was struck by two bullets after the SWAT officer saw him with the pistol. He received treatment at the scene before being taken to University Medical Center with no major injuries.
An undercover investigation which started in September yielded up to this raid. The search warrant was issued when a confidential informant purchased the drug, thought to be fentanyl from Wilson.
Lubbock, just like many other cities in the United States has had its fair share of the fentanyl problem ever since the use of this deadly drug skyrocketed in the U.S., leading to many deaths in past months.
In 2016, Dr. Sridhar Natarajan, Lubbock County Medical Examiner, linked fentanyl to six overdose deaths in the area. Speaking on how dangerous the drug was, he noted that to a great extent, fentanyl can kill you with just a minimal level or trace of it in your bloodstream.
According to Lubbock Police, fentanyl-related cases very much reduced over the years, ever since the major drug bust happened in October 2016. Dr. Sridhar Natarajan, also stated that the Lubbock County Medical center has recorded significantly less fentanyl-related deaths in 2017.
He, however, made a claim that substitute drugs are on the high in the South Plains in the absence of fentanyl.
“Younger people are using synthetic fentanyl which is dropped and we’ve noticed there’s been an increase with meth,” Dr. Natarajan stated.
This bust now adds to the already existing number of people who have been sentenced to federal prison this year, for their part in the conspiracy initially investigated by Lubbock police in 2016.
37-year-old Sidney Caleb earlier this year in June received an 11-year-prison sentence after he admitted to ordering a liquid form of fentanyl via the dark web and electronic currency from China that was then trafficked into Lubbock.
A 17-year-prison sentence was also handed to Jessica Holl, 29 after she also confessed to cooking the fentanyl Lanier provided to prepare it for sale. Jaime Robertson, Holl’s other half is also serving a 4-year prison sentence since June for allowing his spouse to use his cell phone to support the fentanyl trafficking enterprise.
One Christopher Craddick died of an overdose of fentanyl which Lanier sold and this lead to the arrest of Brian Landon Brown on October 17th, 2016. He was handed the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison in September for his role in this death.
Brown, according to court documents cooperated with investigators and corroborated the information they had already obtained from their investigation into Lanier and Holl’s fentanyl trafficking business.