Justin Larson convicted of killing addict with fentanyl; faces scores of years in federal slammer; junkie girlfriend Amber Sullivan signed for shipment from China

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Justin Larson convicted of killing addict with fentanyl; faces scores of years in federal slammer; junkie girlfriend Amber Sullivan signed for shipment from China

GREENBELT, MD.  – A federal jury on Jan. 25, 2017, convicted Justin Larson, 30, of 19413 Brassie Place, Gaithersburg, Maryland, for distribution of acetyl fentanyl, which resulted in death. Larson was also convicted of conspiracy to distribute narcotics; five counts of possession or attempted possession of a controlled substance and controlled substance analogue with intent to distribute; and one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance. The jury was not able to reach a verdict on a second count of distribution of acetyl fentanyl, resulting in death.

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On Jan. 23, 2017, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proposed legislation that will provide sentences of up to 30 years in prison for those convicted of distribution of opioids or synthetic opioids that result in a lethal overdose in Maryland. Because federal courts provide a charge for those who sell drugs resulting in an overdose, and Maryland courts do not, law enforcement and states attorneys turn to federal prosecutors.

According to the testimony at his three-week trial, from May 2014 through March 17, 2016, Larson conspired to distribute acetyl fentanyl, and furanyl fentanyl, a controlled substance analogue. The evidence showed that on May 9, 2014, Larson distributed acetyl fentanyl to an individual, resulting in the death of that individual.

Information in court documents linked Larson’s distribution of the Acetyl Fentanyl to the two deaths in Montgomery County, Md.

The Center for Disease Control says that the drug is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Usually mixed with heroin, the concoction has resulted in users dropping like flies as the heroin epidemic continues to sweep the Mid-Atlantic region.

Larson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison for distribution of acetyl fentanyl with death resulting; a maximum of 30 years in prison for the narcotics conspiracy; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the six possession and distribution counts, and. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for April 26, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. Larson remains detained.

A motion was made by Larson’s defense attorney, Marc Gregory Hall, to squash the results of a search of Larson’s residence for suspected drugs. The following ruling was made by Federal Judge Paula Xinis:

“Pending before the Court is Defendant Justin Larson’s motion to suppress the fruits of a warrantless search conducted on a package shipped from China and destined for Gaithersburg, Maryland. ECF No. 12.1 The Government contends that the warrantless search was justified as under the extended border search doctrine. For the following reasons, the Court agrees and will deny Defendant’s motion.”

On March 28, 2016, Larson was charged with one count of distribution of a controlled substance analogue with death resulting, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) and one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. On August 3, 2016, the Government filed a superseding indictment, adding four counts of possession of a controlled substance analogue with intent to distribute, one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and one count of attempted possession of a controlled substance analogue with intent to distribute. ECF No. 16.

Larson then filed a motion and supplemental motion to suppress evidence and statements. ECF Nos. 6, 12. In his motion, Larson challenged, among other things, the constitutionality of a warrantless search and seizure of a package that had been transported from China and destined for a Gaithersburg, Maryland address. On December 12, 2016, the Court held a suppression hearing where the Government contended that the warrantless seizure and search of the package was justified as an extended border search. After hearing from two witnesses called by the Government—Special Agent Jason Shatarsky from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Corey Evans, the Operations Manager of TNT, a private commercial carrier—and oral argument, the Court requested supplemental briefing from the parties. ECF No. 35. On December 14, 2016, the Court received supplemental letter pleadings from the Government and Defendant. ECF Nos. 38, 41.2

At the suppression hearing, the following undisputed facts were established. On February 10, 2015, the parcel in question began its journey from China to the United States. Its ultimate destination was to be 19413 Brassie Place, Gaithersburg, Maryland. TNT, an international parcel delivery service akin to FedEx Express, was responsible for shipping the package. TNT took custody of the package in China and airmailed it to the United States. The package entered the United States at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York. As is routine with all TNT packages delivered from China to the United States, TNT maintains constant custody and control over the packages from the moment TNT takes possession until the package is delivered to its final destination. Specifically, when the packages arrive at JFK, TNT loads them into a secure warehouse where they are then loaded into a secure TNT truck and transported to a TNT distribution hub in geographic proximity to its final consumer destination. During transport, the packages are locked securely in a truck and not accessible to anyone including the driver. Once the packages reach the TNT hub in Bowie, Maryland, they are then sorted and delivered to their final destinations.

TNT from time to time works cooperatively with federal law enforcement to hold and search packages deemed suspicious. Because such cooperation often delays the delivery of the packages, TNT will also, at law enforcement’s request, manipulate the package tracking information publicly available to its customer base to hide the real reason for the delay. TNT further will provide space in its facility for law enforcement to search packages.

This is precisely what happened here. Special Agent Shatarsky testified that while the package in question was in transit, DHS learned of four other similarly sized and weighted packages which were shipped from China via TNT through JFK, all of which contained illegal narcotics. Specifically, on February 9 and 10, 2015, Agent Shatarsky was involved in the seizure and search of two such TNT packages which contained methamphetamine. Agent Shatarsky testified to seizing and searching the first two packages on February 9. Agent Shatarsky then participated in a controlled delivery involving the second two packages and received consent to search those two additional packages on February 10.

Each of the searches uncovered illegal narcotics packaged the same way: a Mylar plastic bag held the drugs; the bag was then secreted in a small water cooler; the box holding the water cooler appeared to be the commercial packaging for the water cooler.

Each of the searches uncovered illegal narcotics packaged the same way: a Mylar plastic bag held the drugs; the bag was then secreted in a small water cooler; the box holding the water cooler appeared to be the commercial packaging for the water cooler. Of the four prior deliveries, two originated from a Shanghai address that was nearly identical for all practical purposes to originating address for the package in question. See Gov’t Ex. 1-5.

As a result, when the package, in this case, came to Agent Shatarsky’s attention, he contacted TNT operations manager Corey Evans to intercept it. Agent Shatarsky specifically requested that Mr. Evans hold the package and make it appear on the TNT website that delivery was delayed for a period of time sufficient to allow the Agents to search the package. When the package arrived at the Bowie, Maryland location, it was placed in a secure cage where it remained until February 17, 2015. At that time, Agents Shatarsky and another fellow agent arrived at the TNT Bowie facility. Evans provided the agents a designated area to search the package.

Officers observed that the parcel was consistent in size, shape, and weight to the prior four shipments. Based on those similarities and in combination with the similarity of sender address to the prior two packages, Agent Shatarsky opened the package. Inside he found a water cooler almost identical in appearance to the ones used in the prior four shipments. This cooler was packaged similarly to the prior four, and contained within the water cooler was a Mylar bag of similar size and color. The bag contained what appeared to be controlled substances. Agent Shatarsky then contacted fellow agents to retrieve the package.

 

Larson stuck his junkie girlfriend as a patsy to sign for shipment of meth

The substance in the package ultimately tested positive for acetyl fentanyl. A controlled delivery was made to its final destination, 19413 Brassie Place, Gaithersburg, Maryland. Amber Sullivan, Larson’s girlfriend, signed a fake name and accepted the package. Agents then took Sullivan and another individual into custody. After being read her Miranda rights, Sullivan told the agents that Larson asked her to pick up the package. During Sullivan’s detention with the agents, Larson called Sullivan’s cell phone to confirm the package had been delivered.

Amber Sullivan signed for drug shipment for Justin Larson and entered guilty plea to child neglect

Amber Sullivan, 32, of Gaithersburg, Md., was charged with two counts of possession of drugs on March 23, 2016. On Dec. 20, 2016, she was found guilty on both counts and fined $5,000 in each charge and sentenced to two years in prison with all of the jail time suspended.

On Dec. 13, 2013, Sullivan was issued a summons in District Court for Montgomery County, Md., charging with multiple counts of burglary, theft and malicious property destruction for an incident which took place on Dec. 2, 2013. On Feb. 2, 2014, the Montgomery County, Md., States Attorney dropped all the charges.

On Aug. 25, 2014, in Montgomery County Circuit Court with Judge Joseph Quirk presiding, three charges of theft were disposed of in a plea deal with the States Attorney which provided for Probation Before Judgement and one year of unsupervised probation.

Amber Sullivan was charged with child neglect on Sept. 28, 2015, and on Dec. 22, 2015, she entered into a plea deal with the Montgomery County States Attorney and pleaded guilty, picking up one year in jail with 113 days suspended, and three years of unsupervised probation.

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From ABC 7 News

   A Gaithersburg mother is facing charges of child abuse and neglect after police found her filthy apartment so packed with spoiled food, drugs, and trash that officers had trouble walking down the hallway.

A Gaithersburg mother is facing charges of child abuse and neglect after police found her filthy apartment so packed with spoiled food, drugs, and trash that officers had trouble walking down the hallway.

Amber Sullivan lived there with her 3-year-old daughter.

Investigators say they found toilets and a training potty clogged with feces. The kitchen had trash bags crawling with flies and other insects.

Officers also discovered hypodermic needles, cooking spoons, and bags of heroin in nearly every room.

At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Sullivan’s daughter with a MRSA cellulitis infection.

The toddler also had a cigarette burn on her arm and tested positive for opiates and other narcotics.

And according to court documents, Sullivan has spent the last year working as a babysitter.