Men indicted in massive fentanyl ring linked to Coeur d’Alene teenager’s death
SPOKANE, Wash – Federal prosecutors have charged several men in connection with a fentanyl ring, accused of trying to distribute more than 50,000 fentanyl pills in Eastern Washington and beyond. The case is linked to the death of a Lake City High School freshman in May.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office saw a spike in fentanyl-related deaths. Twenty-eight people died from fentanyl overdoses in Spokane County in 2020. That’s up from 11 the year before and just one in 2018.
Michael Stabile fatally overdosed on the drug in May. He was just 15 years old.
A confidential informant helped link several people to the fentanyl ring, including Matthew Gudino-Pena, was who was arrested last week.
Court documents accuse Gudino-Pena of being part of a conspiracy that has been distributing fentanyl along with cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and marijuana.
“The investigation also identified a number of violent crimes perpetrated in furtherance of their drug trafficking activities,” wrote Jon Wiseman, Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in the criminal complaint. “To date, at least three violent shootings have been identified, including one homicide. There also has been at least one overdose linked to the organization.”
Idaho homicide and overdose
The supplier to the homicide victim, identified as a high school freshman, was a man named Matthew Holmberg, according to court documents. Holmberg was arrested for the murder of Gabriel Casper in Coeur d’Alene in late May.
In that case, court documents say Holmberg and another man, Dennen Fitterer-Usher “explained they met up with Casper and another individual to sell counterfeit oxycodone hydrochloride pills, laced with suspected fentanyl.”
Court documents say Casper pulled out a gun and Fitterer-Usher opened fire. He was arrested and he and Holmberg are awaiting trial in Idaho.
How the conspiracy worked
Court documents say during the investigation into Casper’s death, a confidential informant came forward and identified Holmberg and Fitterer-Usher’s source of fentanyl-laced pills. That led the DEA and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to a home in late July. At the home, “DEA recovered thousands of blue counterfeit oxycodone hydrochloride pills, laced with suspected fentanyl,” according to the criminal complaint.
That source, who is cooperating with federal investigators, admitted to selling drugs to several people “who traveled from Tacoma to Spokane to deliver pills.” Those defendants, identified in court documents as Hunter Bow O’Mealy and Caleb Ryan Carr, also sent pills through the mail.
The confidential source said members of the drug ring “own a business and sell designer clothes, guns, switches that make firearms fully automatic, and drugs out of a storage unit in Tacoma.”
The source told investigators that O’Mealy and Carr “have become increasingly violent, shooting downline drug dealers who owed drug debts,” according to the criminal complaint.
Working with investigators, the confidential source shared Snapchat videos with the DEA. In the videos, the court documents say, O’Mealy and Carr are “advertising drugs and toting guns.”
The source also linked Gudino-Pena to the conspiracy.
“Gudino-Pena provided a security escort to O’Mealy in August 2021 when O’Mealy was traveling back to Washington state after picking up more than 40,000 suspected counterfeit oxycodone pills,” the complaint says.
The DEA says Gudino-Pena also appeared in Snapchat videos “firing what appears to be fully automatic illegal firearms.”
Tracking their crimes
Court documents say the confidential source worked with the DEA to provide information about the defendants’ trips to traffic drugs in August. That included a trip to Tacoma for a brick of cocaine.
Federal investigators began tracking O’Mealy’s phone and followed his travels from California back into Washington.
The DEA pulled O’Mealy’s car over near Chehalis; Gudino-Pena was traveling in a separate car.
During the stop and a subsequent search of the cars “DEA recovered approximately 40,000 suspected counterfeit oxycodone pills, several firearms and $16,300 in U.S. currency.”
To arrest Carr, federal investigators set up a controlled buy, in which a confidential source asked to buy drugs.
“During the controlled buy, Carr handed the [confidential source] a pillowcase containing approximately twenty pounds of marijuana candy and 2,000 suspected fentanyl laced pills,” court documents say.
Carr also gave the source several phones, which the DEA later used to track the group’s movements.
According to court documents, federal agents tracked the defendants’ movements and crimes over the next month.
In late September, court documents say Gudino-Pena and O’Mealy were involved in a shooting in Lakewood, Washington that left one men possibly paralyzed for life.
End of the Line
Federal agents finally seized on the defendants in late September. It started with a raid on O’Mealy and Carr’s home in Eatonville, Washington and storage units in Tacoma. DEA seized pills suspected to be laced with fentanyl, several firearms and thousands of dollars worth of merchandise they believe was obtained through the the drug trade.
O’Mealy and Carr weren’t there and, according to the criminal complaint, were immediately on the run to California and Arizona. The confidential source told the DEA Gudino-Pena was driving O’Mealy from Washington to Arizona.
The DEA and U.S. Marshals finally caught up with them on October 13th in Tucson and placed them under arrest. They were arrested in an apartment complex filled with college students.
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