Two Evansville Men Indicted for Trafficking Fentanyl and Allegedly Manufacturing Fentanyl-Laced Counterfeit Pills Using a Pill Press

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

EVANSVILLE – A federal grand jury in Evansville returned an indictment charging two men with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, illegal distribution of a tableting machine, and illegal possession of a tableting machine. The indictment was unsealed yesterday following the initial appearance of the defendants.

According to court documents, Ethan Parker, 29, of Evansville, allegedly obtained pound quantities of fentanyl powder from an unknown source of supply in the Louisville, Kentucky area and manufactured fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills using a pill press. Parker then allegedly supplied Joshua Harvey, 30, of Evansville, and others, with fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills. Harvey also allegedly transported Parker to the Louisville, Kentucky area to acquire pound quantities of fentanyl powder to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills.

During the investigation, it is alleged that Parker and Harvey displayed a high degree of technological sophistication, utilizing encrypted messaging applications to purchase, advertise, and sell fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills, as well as utilizing the “Dark Web” and cryptocurrency to pay for drug transactions.

To date, in this investigation, authorities have seized approximately 140 grams of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and powder, two pill presses, and various dies and punches utilized to press pills. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, depending on a person’s body size, tolerance, and past usage. One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.

If convicted of conspiring to distribute fentanyl, Parker and Harvey face 10 years to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000,000, and at least 5 years’ supervised release. If convicted of distribution or possession of a tableting machine, Parker faces up to 4 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to 3 years’ supervised release. Actual sentences are determined by a federal district court judge and are typically less than the maximum penalties.

Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Michael Gannon, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Indianapolis Field Office, Chief Billy Bolin, of the Evansville Police Department, and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding made the announcement.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force, the Evansville Police Department, and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office. The Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office provided valuable assistance.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kristian Mukoski, who is prosecuting this case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.