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Last year, 25-year-old Kyle Enos pleaded guilty to the distribution of fentanyl and similar fentanyl trafficking trafficking or possessing charges. Months later, in early February 2018, Cardiff Crown Court Judge Eleri Rees sentenced the Newport man to eight years in prison. The judge took into account evidence presented by the Crown Prosecution Service that proved Enos continued to sell fentanyl even after he had learned of the drug’s power to take lives.
Colin Williams of the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) told the court that the NCA targeted darknet vendors who played “Russian roulette with the lives of drug users” by selling heroin adulterated with fentanyl. This combination, especially when sold as heroin, has taken the lives of hundreds—if not thousands—of unsuspecting drug users drug users across the world. Williams said that “Kyle Enos is one of these individuals” that prey on these unsuspecting heroin users.
When he pleaded guilty on August 29, 2017, the NCA said the case had an “international aspect.” They likely referred to the fact that Enos shipped fentanyl to customers access the world. Or they referred to something he admitted in the courtroom: that he imported the fentanyl from China at very low prices. The NCA said Enos had used “multiple identities” to purchase the significant quantities of fentanyl that he had purchased over time.
“It was being dealt over the dark web both in the UK and overseas – he was shipping it in,” Prosecutor Susan Ferrier said. “Every police force in the country is in involved in this inquiry.” The Gwent Police Detective Chief Inspector said that the threat from fentanyl was very real, but Enos was an isolated case.
Between May 2016 and May 2017. Enos sold fentanyl to at least 166 customers spread throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Investigators compiled a list of Enos’ buyers and connected the drugs to at least four known “heroin” overdoses. Cardiff Crown Court heard that one of the darknet drug buyers who bought from Enos was a 23 year old Cardiff University student named Jack Barton. Another, 34 year old Arran Rees, overdosed on his Carmarthenshire home where he remained until someone walked in on the dead man.
The prosecution made it clear that they are not seeking charges for the overdose victims (for the time being, that is). It would be near impossible to decisively prove that Enos’ product killed all four men. Any defense attorney could have argued that the men had also purchased similar drugs off the street and overdosed on those drugs instead of Enos’ fentanyl. The CPS may pursue similar charges in the future, though.
“The evidence presented by the CPS showed that Enos was well aware of the risks of taking fentanyl as he warned users when advertising the product,” John Davies of the Crown Prosecution Service said. He added, “despite this knowledge he continued selling large quantities of the drug and even invited eBay-style reviews from his customers.”