A 30-year-old New York man faces a custodial sentence ranging from 10 years to life after admitting to being the leader of an Elmira-based fentanyl ring. The man entered guilty pleas to conspiracy, drug possession and drug distribution charges in a Monroe County federal courtroom on Oct. 25. Prosecutors say that 13 members of the group have now been convicted on federal drug charges. At least two overdose deaths have been linked by law enforcement to the group’s activities.

.The man is said to have used eBay to purchase the machinery and components he needed to manufacture fentanyl pills. Homes in Catlin and Sayre were used to make the pills, which police say were designed to look just like Percocet painkillers. Investigators believe that the man’s operation earned more than $750,000 selling the pills for $30 each in the Elmira area. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous but highly prized by opioid addicts because it is cheaper and far more powerful than heroin.

Police say that confidential informants provided investigators with valuable tips including information that led to the seizure of a package containing 249 grams of fentanyl at John F. Kennedy International Airport in early 2017. Investigators say that the man contacted suppliers and found distributors for his pills by visiting websites on the so-called dark web. Reports indicate that the man remains in federal custody and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 7.

Criminal defense attorneys often urge their clients to seek the best deal possible when their associates have been taken into custody and face decades behind bars. This is because prosecutors generally build cases involving serious drug crimes carefully, and they tend to make their most generous plea offers early on when their eventual success seems less assured.

Source: The Star Gazette, “Elmira man who ran illegal fentantyl trafficking pleads guilty to federal drug charge”, Anthony Borrelli, Oct. 26, 2018