Six people were charged this week in a drug trafficking conspiracy that involved hiding fentanyl pills in stuffed animals and shipping them to addresses throughout the Twin Cities.
U.S. Attorney Andy Luger announced the charges Thursday against Cornell Montez Chandler, Jr., 24, Robiel Lee Williams, 23, Quijuan Hosea Bankhead, 30, Stardasha Christina Davenport-Mounger, 24, Fo’Tre Devine White, 26, and Shardai Rayshell Allen, 24.
According to Luger’s office, several of the defendants traveled to Phoenix between August and December 2022 where they would obtain fentanyl pills from suppliers. They then hid the pills inside stuffed animals and mailed them to various locations throughout the Twin Cities, the charges say.
Law enforcement in Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties recovered six packages containing over 30,000 grams of fentanyl pills during a joint investigation of the trafficking scheme. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal.
All of the defendants have been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. White is facing additional charges of possessing a machinegun and possession of a firearm as a felon.
In November, Luger’s office announced an indictment against 14 Minneapolis gang members who were accused of fentanyl trafficking. The indictment in that case said members of the “Highs” would travel by air to Arizona with tens of thousands in cash to purchase pills and return to Minnesota or would purchase the drugs from Arizona through the U.S. mail.
Minnesota experienced “several years of sharp increases” in overdose deaths between 2012 to 2021 before those figures plateaued in 2022, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, which said fentanyl is now involved in 92% of all opioid-involved deaths and 62% of all overdose deaths.
From 2012 to 2022, opioid-involved overdose deaths increased from 293 to 1,002.