Opioids In Court

FILE - In this June 6, 2017, file photo, a reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly after a news conference about deaths from fentanyl exposure, at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Va. 

A New Castle County man was found guilty in Delaware first federal overdose death trial.

Donte Jacobs was convicted Thursday, September 12, 2019, of distributing and conspiring to distribute fentanyl-laced heroin that resulted in the death of a 26-year-old woman from New Garden Township, Pennsylvania.

According to court records, and evidence presented at the trial, Jacobs had a longstanding agreement to distribute heroin and/or fentanyl-laced heroin with others in the region. The fentanyl-laced heroin package had a "BUTTER" stamp on it.

On June 28, 2016, one of his sub-distributors sold the "BUTTER" stamped drugs to the victim only identified in court documents as T.A. and hours later the victim died from a fentanyl overdose after using those drugs in New Garden Township, Pennsylvania.

Toxicology records showed that the victim had 26 ng/ml of fentanyl in her blood stream when she died, and testimony revealed, the amount was lethal. 

The DEA brought Jacobs down in conjunction with the Southern Chester County Police Department.  After arresting the sub-distributor who directly sold the “BUTTER” bags of fentanyl-laced heroin to the victim, officers were able to record a conversation between that sub-distributor and Jacobs, where Jacobs acknowledged his involvement in distributing the “BUTTER”-stamped drugs. During the call, Jacobs also explained to his sub-distributor how people, "OD on Fentanyl" and "how fentanyl and heroin were causing people to 'die every day.'"

"The message from this verdict is simple. If you knowingly sell a substance that may contain fentanyl and that substance causes death, we will hold you accountable. In this case, for the Defendant, that means that he will spend at least the next 20 years in jail," said United States Attorney David C. Weiss.

Jacobs, who faces 20 years in federal prison, also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

"Drug-trafficking is an inherently dangerous and risky business," said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Philadelphia Field Division. "For the drug-traffickers like Jacobs that seek to sell this poison that is destroying our communities, the penalties are severe."  

He's due to be sentenced January 10, 2020.