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Arlington Man Sentenced to Nearly 13 Years in Prison for Trafficking Fentanyl

An Arlington man was sentenced yesterday (Feb. 24) to 12 years and 7 months in prison for his participation in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

Cornelius Frazier, 32, would press pills containing fentanyl so that they would resemble prescription pills (like Oxycodone) so that he could distribute for financial gain, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release and court documents.

“As this case demonstrates, fentanyl is not only extremely dangerous because of its potency, but also because it may be hidden in counterfeit prescription pills,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who took over the role on an interim basis last month. “We are grateful to the numerous law enforcement agencies that worked with our Office on this investigation and prevented kilograms of fentanyl from poisoning our communities and harming our loved ones. Their tireless efforts are saving lives.”

A number of local law enforcement agencies were involved, including the Arlington County Police Department, Falls Church Police Department, and Alexandria Police Department, per the release.

On June 1, 2020, a search of Frazier’s vehicle found more than 5,000 pills which tested positive for fentanyl as well as two brick-like packages weighing more than 1.6 kilograms which also tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.

A search of Frazier’s home ended in the seizure of a blender with about a kilogram of a mixture containing fentanyl. Law enforcement seized paraphernalia often associated with prescription drug trafficking including dust collectors with residue, a hydraulic jack, cutting agents, and pill presses containing markings consistent with Oxycodone, according to federal prosecutors.

Also found: nearly $35,000 in cash, a loaded AK-47 with thirty bullets loaded in the magazine, and other guns.

Opioid overdoses remain a huge risk in Arlington County. 2020 saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses locally; there were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than in 2018 and 2019 combined.

Some officials believe that the pandemic holds much of the blame for the resurgence.

Full press release is below.

 An Arlington man was sentenced today to 151 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to distribute over seven kilograms of fentanyl.

According to court documents, Cornelius Frazier, 32, and others would press illicit pills containing fentanyl, among other substances, to resemble prescription pills such as Oxycodone, for illegal distribution and financial gain.

“As this case demonstrates, fentanyl is not only extremely dangerous because of its potency, but also because it may be hidden in counterfeit prescription pills,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are grateful to the numerous law enforcement agencies that worked with our Office on this investigation and prevented kilograms of fentanyl from poisoning our communities and harming our loved ones. Their tireless efforts are saving lives.”

A June 1, 2020 court-authorized search of Frazier’s residence resulted in the seizure of a blender containing approximately one kilogram of a mixture and substance containing fentanyl. Law enforcement also seized paraphernalia associated with prescription drug trafficking, including a hydraulic jack, two dust collectors with a large amount of residue, an inductor motor, various cutting agents, and pill presses with several insets containing markings consistent with those found on controlled prescription painkillers such as Oxycodone. In addition, law enforcement seized approximately $34,828 in U.S. currency and a loaded AK-47 with thirty bullets in the magazine. Additional ammunition for this semi-automatic weapon and other firearms was also found in the residence.

Additionally, a June 1, 2020 court-authorized search of one of Frazier’s vehicles resulted in the seizure of two brick-like packages weighing over 1.6 kilograms, which tested positive for the presence of fentanyl. The vehicle also contained 5,307 pills, which tested positive for fentanyl and weighed approximately 4.4 kilograms. In another vehicle owned by Frazier, two machines used to create kilogram packages of controlled substances were seized pursuant to a search warrant.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mark R. Herring, Attorney General of Virginia; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Mary Gavin, Chief of Falls Church Police; Acting Chief Andy Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police; Michael L. Brown, Alexandria Chief of Police; and David Huchler, Chief of Police, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bibeane Metsch and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Roberts prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-207.

Photo via Flickr/Joe Gratz

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