INDIANAPOLIS — Two southern Indiana men are facing federal charges for obtaining "pound quantities" of fentanyl powder and using a pill press to make fentanyl-laced "fake pills," Drug Enforcement Administration officials said.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Ethan Parker, 29, of Evansville, and Joshua Harvey, 30, also of Evansville, with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, illegal distribution of a tableting machine, and illegal possession of a tableting machine. The indictment was unsealed Thursday following Parker and Harvey's initial court appearances.
Court documents allege Parker obtained pounds of fentanyl powder from an unknown source in the Louisville, Kentucky area.
For reference, DEA officials said, as little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage. One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.
Parker would use the powder and a pill press to make fentanyl-laced fake pills. The pills he made were supplied to Harvey and several others.
Harvey is also accused of driving Parker to Louisville, Kentucky area to get the fentanyl powder, all in an effort to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl-laced fake pills.
Investigators say Parker and Harvey displayed a "high degree of technological sophistication," using encrypted messaging applications to purchase, advertise, and sell fentanyl-laced fake pills, as well as utilizing the Dark Web and cryptocurrency to pay for drug transactions.
To date, this investigation has netted about 140 grams of fentanyl-laced fake pills and powder, two pill presses and various dyes and punches used to press pills.
If convicted of conspiring to distribute fentanyl, Parker and Harvey face 10 years to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, and at least five years supervised release. If convicted of distribution or possession of a tableting machine, Parker faces up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years supervised release.
However, actual sentences will be determined by a fedeal district court judge and are typically less than the maximum penalties.
This case was the result of an investigation by the DEA, the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force, the Evansville Police Department, and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office.