(STL.News) – United States Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Elias Deshawnte Mills and Ralph Knox II were each sentenced in federal court to 60 months in prison and four years supervised release for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and a detectible amount of heroin.
This case involved two seizures of drugs. One seizure followed a traffic stop of a car carrying defendant Mills travelling from Detroit, where he obtained the fentanyl and other drugs, to Battle Creek. Battle Creek Police actually recovered the fentanyl from a woman’s body cavity after a trained canine notified law enforcement of the possibility of drugs by alerting on the driver’s seat where the woman was sitting. After a complete investigation, the woman was referred to state rather than federal authorities for consideration of charges. The other seizure followed a search of Knox’s home in Battle Creek where the defendants stored drugs. The fentanyl found in Knox’s home was particularly troubling because police recovered it from an open kitchen drawer in a house where four minor children resided. Both defendant Mills and defendant Knox had prior Calhoun County drug convictions.
The investigation was conducted by the Battle Creek Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vito S. Solitro and Kate Zell prosecuted the case.
“Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids continue to claim the lives of our loved ones,” said Vance Callender, HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge. “HSI is working around the clock and around the world to dismantle the international smuggling networks that represent the supply chain for those who look to profit from the suffering of others. HSI maintains a global network of international law enforcement partners to protect the Homeland and U.S. financial infrastructure.”