The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Georgia has indicted two men on federal drug and money laundering charges for their participation in the facilitation of the importation and distribution of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl.
“Pills in the underground drug market and on the Dark Web are often diluted with dangerous and deadly substances like fentanyl, as was the case in this investigation,” said Robert J. Murphy, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Field Division.
Two U.S. military service members were killed as a result of fentanyl overdoses that stem from the drugs trafficked by Thomas Michael Federuik, 59, from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Paul Anthony Nicholls, 44, of Surrey, England.
“The number of deaths from drug overdoses, particularly fentanyl and its analogues, has reached a record high in the United States and every citizen of this country should be alarmed. The prevalence of this drug is, in large part, fueled by an illicit pipeline of illegally imported drugs,” U.S. Attorney David H. Estes said.
The charges brought against the two men include conspiracy to import controlled substances; conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; and money laundering conspiracy. If convicted, Federuik and Nicholls face 10 years to a maximum life prison sentence, up to $10 million in fines, and a minimum five years of supervised release.
“This investigation sought to trace that pipeline to its source to cut off its flow to our country in an effort to protect our citizens from harm,” said U.S. Attorney Estes.
The investigative effort began in October 2017 after the separate deaths of two U.S. Navy petty officers in Kingsland, Georgia, both of which were determined to be fentanyl overdoses.
“This poison ultimately led to the deaths of two service members and destroyed the lives of countless others,” said Katrina W. Berger, the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent in charge of operations in Georgia and Alabama.
The joint operation was conducted in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Calgary Police Service, the Canada Border Service Agency, the U.K.’s Staffordshire Police, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals.
“Stopping drug traffickers takes a team, and I’m proud of the work done by HSI and its law enforcement partners working together to stop this destructive epidemic,” said Special Agent Berger.
Nicholls and Federuik have both been arrested and now await extradition to the Southern District of Georgia.
“Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty,” said the U.S. Justice Department.
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Addison Basurto is a reporter at The Georgia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Addy on Twitter and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Fentanyl Pills” by The United States Attorney’s Office District of Oregon.