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Leader of drug trafficking ring sentenced to life

Sentence for distributing fentanyl that caused overdose death of Madison County man. Case represents first time in eastern Kentucky that a life sentence was imposed as a result of an overdose of fentanyl and that federal overdose penalties were applied to out-of-state defendants from Detroit, a major source for illicit drugs
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From U.S. Attorney's office
U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY - (Wed 11 Jan 2017) - The leader of a drug trafficking organization that brought significant amounts of heroin and fentanyl, from Detroit, MI, to Richmond, KY, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for distributing fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of a Madison County resident.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves sentenced Navarius Westberry, 38, originally from Michigan, but living in Lexington, for distributing a controlled substance resulting in an overdose death. Anyone convicted under this law is subject to a prison term of 20 years to life. After an extensive hearing, the Court imposed a term of life imprisonment.

"The facts of this case are particularly disturbing," said Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "Mr. Westberry and his co-conspirators moved to Kentucky from Michigan for the sole purpose of establishing a large scale distribution network for heroin and fentanyl. The organization which he led was among the first to introduce large quantities of fentanyl to the Richmond community. The drugs sold by the Westberry organization caused multiple overdoses, including fatalities. The evidence indicates that Mr. Westberry knew the drugs sold by his organization were particularly dangerous. Mr. Westberry exhibited a callous disregard for human life in his quest for easy money. The Court determined that his freedom must be forever forfeited as a result of his criminal conduct. I hope that those inclined toward this sort of destructive conduct, whether they live in Kentucky or occupy a higher position in the drug distribution network, take heed - the people of Kentucky have had enough. The drugs you are peddling will kill people and the price you will pay for that is steep - whether ether you are the street level dealer, or a leader of the criminal organization."

Westberry admitted that, from January 2014 until August 2015, he organized and operated a drug trafficking organization in Richmond that distributed between 750 grams and one kilogram of heroin and 50 grams of fentanyl. Fentanyl, which is many times stronger than heroin, can be lethal in the 2 mg range.

Westberry also admitted that, in March 2016, he supplied heroin and fentanyl to others, which then led to the overdose death of 25 year-old Corey Brewer. The toxicology report and autopsy showed that Brewer's death was caused by toxic levels of fentanyl.

This case marks the first time in the Eastern District of Kentucky that the federal overdose penalties were applied in a case involving defendants from Michigan, whose distribution of drugs in Kentucky caused an overdose.

Four other co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and been sentenced, including co-defendant, Benjamin Fredrick Charles Robinson, 21, also from Detroit, who was sentenced to 20 years for distributing a controlled substance that caused another overdose. In that case, the victim survived due to medical assistance.

U.S. Attorney Harvey; Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration; and Robert Mott, Acting Police Chief, Richmond Police Department, jointly made the announcement.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA and the Richmond Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Bradbury prosecuted this case on behalf of the federal government.

This story was posted on 2017-01-11 18:39:43
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