1st Chicago-Area Fed Prosecution for Distributing Carfentanil (Learn More)

An Ohio man was arraigned Tuesday on a federal drug charge in the first Chicago-area federal prosecution related to the synthetic opioid “carfentanil.”

This indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and James M. Gibbons, special agent-in-charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) in Chicago. Illinois State Police also assisted with this investigation.

Clifford Reed, 27, of Cincinnati, Ohio, allegedly purchased multi-kilogram quantities of heroin from various sources in Chicago; He then allegedly mixed it with carfentanil to increase the amount of heroin he could distribute.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid listed federally as a Schedule II controlled substance. Carfentanil is about 100 times stronger than fentanyl and about 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil is most frequently used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large mammals in zoos and wildlife environments.

U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon
U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon

Reed was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury in Chicago on one count of distributing a kilogram or more of a substance containing a mixture of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.

“Investigating heroin and opioid trafficking is the number-one narcotics enforcement priority in our office,” said Fardon. “Carfentanil-laced narcotics pose an extremely serious threat to our communities, and anyone who attempts to distribute it will be held accountable.”

“Carfentanil is an insidious opioid with deadly consequences for users and first responders alike,” said Gibbons. “This is the first carfentanil case to be charged in federal court here, clearly demonstrating the tenacity with which HSI is combatting the ongoing epidemic affecting our country.”

“We are committed to protecting public safety by keeping this dangerous substance out of our communities and holding those responsible for fueling this public health crisis to the fullest extent of the law.”

(Learn More about this dangerous synthetic opiod, courtesy of VICE News, HBO and YouTube)

This federal investigation revealed that Reed traveled to Chicago’s south side earlier this year to distribute carfentanil-laced heroin to an individual who, unbeknownst to Reed, was cooperating with law enforcement, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit previously filed in this case.

The transaction between Reed and the cooperating source occurred Sept. 9 in a vehicle near 93rd Street and Stony Island Avenue, the complaint states. Shortly after the audio-recorded deal, law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle and arrested Reed on an outstanding warrant from Ohio, the complaint states.

The officers seized from the vehicle about one kilogram of the carfentanil-laced heroin, according to the complaint.

Federal authorities recently took custody of Reed and transported him to Chicago for the arraignment. His indictment marks the first time a defendant has been charged in the Northern District of Illinois with distributing carfentanil-laced heroin.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

ICE banner

The distribution count in this indictment is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to a life sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Hotaling, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting this case.