YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two men were arrested and charged with attempted possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, law enforcement officials said.
Michael B. Lawrence, 43, of Youngstown, and Dainon L. Jones, 37, of Girard, were arrested after accepting a package from China that they believed contained approximately 273 grams of methoxyacetyl fentanyl, investigators said.
Homeland Security agents became aware on November 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.” Law enforcement examined the parcel and test results confirmed that the package contained approximately 273 grams fentanyl, according to court documents.
Agents intercepted the package and placed a tracking device in it.
A search of law enforcement databases revealed no Erik Fields living at 731 Judson Ave. Undercover agents made a controlled delivery at Judson Street house on November 29. 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 court documents.
Jones drove to 3311 Idlewood in Youngstown, where he picked up Lawrence. They drove to a nearby gas station, where Lawrence exited 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, according to court documents.
Both Jones and Lawrence took off running as law enforcement approached the home in Girard. Both eventually were arrested.
“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 opioid crisis touches almost every American community,” said Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Detroit office. “HSI and our partners are proud to be at the tip of the spear, using our broad authorities to combat the groups and individuals allegedly involved in this deadly trade.”
This case was investigated by HSI, 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.