Feds charge 8 in Duluth fentanyl trafficking ring amid record overdoses

Duluth Police Lt. Chad Nagorski said police recovered 1,191 grams of fentanyl and 575 grams of meth during the investigation. 

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announces the charges Tuesday during a press conference along with law enforcement partners. (U.S. Attorney'S Office/Twitter)

The federal government announced charges this week against eight members of a drug trafficking ring who allegedly distributed fentanyl and methamphetamine throughout Duluth and the surrounding areas.

Seven of the eight defendants are from Chicago, including Carl Maurice Brown, 32, Robert Desean Chism, 35, Anthony Lenard Green, 34, Ezell Cordero Lucas, aka “Cash,” 32, Arreal Dominique Timberlake, 30, Deandre Michael Westmoreland, 35, and Pharoo Nasun Witherspoon, 35. The remaining defendant, Matthew James Erickson, aka “EZ,” 35, is a Duluth resident.

All eight are charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release that law enforcement identified Lucas as the leader of the conspiracy. He is accused of arranging the sales while directing other members of the conspiracy to carry out the transactions.

At a press conference announcing the charges Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger revealed that his office has hired a full-time prosecutor who will be based in Duluth.

“I heard a clear message of how the fentanyl crisis has afflicted this region so much and our state as a whole,” Luger said, noting that Duluth experienced a record number of overdose deaths in 2023.

Duluth Police Lt. Chad Nagorski said police recovered 1,191 grams of fentanyl and 575 grams of meth during the investigation.

In April 2022, Alpha News rode along with the Lake Superior task force, which has helped bring charges against dozens of drug traffickers in the area over the past few years.

For instance, in January 2022, 21 people were charged for their alleged involvement in a Chicago-based criminal organization that transported substantial quantities of fentanyl and heroin from Chicago to Duluth.

“You can get probably three to four times as much money selling heroin or fentanyl here as you can selling it on the street in Chicago,” one investigator told Alpha News.

“We just have a very large population of addicted people,” another said. “There’s a huge market here. We have a lot of treatment centers here. A lot of halfway houses, things like that.”

St. Louis County Attorney Kim Maki said at the time that her office was prosecuting six third-degree murder cases where the defendant’s sale or distribution of a controlled substance resulted in the death of another.

In January, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that Minnesota saw a 127% increase in fentanyl pill seizures from 2022 to 2023.


Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.