Two Kilograms of Fentanyl Seized During the Investigation—Enough to Kill One Million People
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted six individuals for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. The indictment was returned under seal on February 21, 2019, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the following defendants on March 5, 2019:
Lekeith Dion Mitchell, age 49, of Hagerstown, Maryland;
Gary Lee Washington, age 38, of Smithsburg, Maryland;
Joenna Marie Nicewarner, age 33, of Hagerstown; and
Lama Junior Jean-Pierre, age 36, of Fairplay, Maryland.
Dustin Ray Stipes, age 35, and Nyana Angelina Cheese, age 28, both of Hagerstown, are also charged with the fentanyl distribution conspiracy, and are still being sought.
Mitchell is also charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and being a felon in possession of firearms. Washington is also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Don A. Hibbert of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore.
According to the indictment, from September through December 2018, the defendants conspired to distribute fentanyl in Hagerstown and the surrounding area. The indictment alleges that Mitchell maintained a residence in Hagerstown which was used to manufacture, store, distribute, and use fentanyl. According to the indictment, on December 17, 2018, Washington possessed a semi-automatic rifle in furtherance of the drug trafficking, and on February 1, 2019, Mitchell allegedly possessed four loaded firearms. Washington and Mitchell both have previous felony convictions and are therefore prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.
The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $127,241.25 in cash seized during the investigation, and 12 luxury watches. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement also seized more than two kilograms of fentanyl. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, and two kilograms is enough to kill 1 million people—25 times the population of Hagerstown.
If convicted, all the defendants except Jean-Pierre face a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison for the fentanyl distribution conspiracy. Jean-Pierre faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison and up to 40 years in prison for the conspiracy. Mitchell also faces minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and a maximum of 20 years in prison for maintaining drug-involved premises. Washington faces a maximum of five years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Mitchell and Washington each face a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition. At the initial appearances held on March 6, 2019, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner ordered that Washington be detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for March 7, 2019. Nicewarner and Mitchell consented to detention. Jean-Pierre was ordered to be released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the DEA and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Romano and Samika Boyd, who are prosecuting the case.
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