What is the Right Jail Sentence for Dealers of Deadly Fentanyl?

In January 2018 in New Jersey, two men were sentenced for an earlier arrest for possession of the deadly drug fentanyl. This is the drug you have read about in news headlines, the drug that is illicitly manufactured in China and trafficked into the U.S. It’s then mixed into heroin supplies, pressed into counterfeit pills or just sold as a powder. This is the drug that is taking lives at an alarming rate. In 2016, the rate of drug overdoses from fentanyl skyrocketed, outstripping all other categories of opioid, as you can see in this chart.

Chart showing the drugs causing overdoses through 2016
Synthetic opioids other than methadone refers to the dozens of different forms of fentanyl plus the painkiller Tramadol. Chart courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Comparison of fatal doses of fentanyl, heroin and carfentanil.
Image courtesy of the DEA.

The two men were found to possess nearly 100 pounds of this drug. Because the dosage for this powerful drug is so tiny, 100 pounds is enough for 18 million average-sized doses. That’s enough to kill everyone in New Jersey. And throw New York City in as well.

The two men were arrested as they were transferring duffle bags of fentanyl into a Mercedes Benz. They received more charges after police made an another seizure the following day. The haul that time was 10 more pounds of fentanyl and 88 pounds of heroin.

What Were Their Jail Sentences?

Jesus Carrillo-Pineda of Philadelphia and Daniel Vasquez of Arizona were originally arrested in June 2017. Carillo-Pineda received two sentences totaling 17 years—ten for possession of heroin with intent to distribute and seven for the possession of fentanyl.

Carrillo-Pineda mug shot

Vazquez received a sentence of only six years for possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute.

For two men who were trafficking drugs capable of wiping out millions of people, doesn’t this seem like a rather light sentence?

Looking at those 18 million doses another way, that would be enough doses to kill everyone in Oregon, Iowa, Colorado and Minnesota.

There are no reports on how many people might already have died from the drugs they distributed. Somehow it seems like these men got off with very tiny sentences when you consider the number of families who could have lost a loved one just from the load of drugs that was seized.

Vazquez mug shot

Surely Carillo-Pineda and Vasquez had decided that their affluence and power were far more important than any responsibility for their drug users. They traded their very souls for whatever benefit they felt they received from trafficking these deadly drugs.

A seizure of this quantity of drug will put a big dent in the supply in an area. Those who are addicted and street-level dealers will be scrambling for quite some time until new supplies come in. But of course, there are always other traffickers willing to take the place of those who are arrested. And there’s always more drugs in the pipeline to replace the supply seized by law enforcement. When that situation exists, it’s so important to save lives by preventing people from ever starting to use drugs.

As Long as Soulless Monsters Exist, Parents Must Focus on Prevention

Which makes drug prevention one of the most vital jobs of parenting. Addictive substances abound in every corner of our country. It’s very likely that addictive substances can be obtained in every small town and rural area in America. For sure they can be found in every city.

To help parents with prevention, Narconon International has written many articles about talking to your children about drugs or alcohol or identifying drug use. It’s important to start as early as 10 years of age because your kids are likely to see other kids using drugs or drinking or hear stories. Don’t assume that your teenager headed off to college knows what to expect. More than 1,800 college students die each year just from alcohol-related causes.

Your children must know the dangers that face them so they never start using drugs. If they never start, they will never reach for a drug like fentanyl that can kill them in an instant.

If you need to find help for someone who is already addicted, call us today. We have been helping those who are addicted make their ways back to sobriety for more than fifty years. Call Narconon International.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.