HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment, charging Jeremial Leach, 18, of Evansville, with multiple drug charges involving fentanyl.
The charges are:
- Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in Death
- Distribution of Fentanyl, two counts
- Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl
According to the United States Attorney’s Office of Southern District of Indiana in a press release, Leach is allegedly responsible for dealing fentanyl, resulting in at least three overdoses, one resulting in death. Leach allegedly advertised the laced counterfeit pills over Snapchat to hundreds of recipients using the alias “Mel.”
On June 25, 2022, at approximately 12:11 a.m., officers with the Evansville Police Department (EPD) responded to a residence on Wedeking Avenue in reference to the overdose of an adult female. The woman was revived with naloxone (Narcan). Later that day, at approximately 10:55 a.m., officers responded to the same residence where another woman died. The coroner located a counterfeit oxycodone pill containing fentanyl on the deceased woman. The cause of both overdoses was determined to be fentanyl intoxication.
Investigators searched the deceased victim’s phone and found conversations between her and Leach in which they discussed the transaction of “blues” pills. Leach gave her his address on Shanklin Avenue.
On August 20, 2022, at approximately 4:15 p.m., EPD officers were dispatched to a restaurant located on Hirschland Road, concerning another overdose. Upon arrival, officers located a woman sitting on the ground in the restaurant’s parking lot not alert and beginning to lose consciousness. The woman advised the officers she had taken 30 mg of oxycodone.
On August 22, the third victim told investigators on the day of her overdose, she purchased four Percocet 30s from 1614 Shanklin Avenue and overdosed because they contained fentanyl. She identified Leach as her supplier.
On October 7, at approximately 2:14 p.m., EPD officers responded to a location on SE Riverside Drive after receiving a call regarding a single vehicle accident. The witness advised the driver of the vehicle, a minor boy, was no longer coherent. EPD personnel arrived and attempted to wake the driver with a sternum rub. After failing, Narcan was administered. After becoming responsive, the boy admitted to medical personnel he took two Percocet 7.5 mg pills that he purchased from “Mel” via Snapchat about 45 minutes before the crash. He speculated the pills may have been pressed fentanyl pills than Percocet.
On October 11, investigators with the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force observed Leach conduct two apparent drug deals at his residence. The buyers, both underage boys, left separately in a Kia Optima and a gold Hyundai Tucson. Shortly after, law enforcement stopped both vehicles after observing traffic violations.
During the traffic stop, investigators located three blue pills marked “M30” inside the Kia and six of the same pills in the Hyundai. One boy later stated his dealer’s name was “Mel.”
Later that day, officers executed a search warrant at Leach’s residence. Leach exited the front door and was taken into custody by detectives. Some items located and seized included 33 blue pills marked “30”, a digital scale, two 9mm pistols and approximately $1,843 in cash.
The pills seized during the traffic stops and from Leach’s residence were submitted for laboratory analysis and tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.
The DEA, the Evansville Police Department and the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force were all involved in this case. If convicted on all counts, Leach faces up to life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine the actual sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kristian Mukoski, who is prosecuting this case.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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. Six out of ten illegal fentanyl tablets sold on U.S. streets now contain a potentially lethal dose.