Jury Convicts Armed Fentanyl Trafficker Of Causing Fatal Overdose

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found Justin Kelly (35, New Port Richey) guilty of conspiracy to distribute 40 grams of fentanyl resulting in death, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, three counts of possession/distribution of fentanyl, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Due to his six prior felony convictions for cocaine distribution in two separate cases, Kelly faces a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 17, 2023. Kelly had been indicted on June 24, 2021.

According to evidence presented at trial, Kelly was a supplier of fentanyl in Pasco County. He used addicts to sell the drug for him and yielded profits of thousands of dollars per day. In the early hours of November 18, 2020, “E.L.” was found face down in his kitchen in New Port Richey by his wife, while his stepchildren were asleep a few feet away. Detectives from the Pasco Sheriff’s Office learned that a dealer named Steven Kinney had supplied the fentanyl. Kinney identified Kelly as his supplier and made recorded purchases of fentanyl from him. Search warrants executed at Kelly’s motel room and a storage unit resulted in the seizures of additional fentanyl, cash, kilogram presses, digital scales, and an M&P 15 rifle. Cellphone records corroborated that Kelly was the supplier of the fentanyl that Kinney had distributed to “E.L.” before he died.

This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Tarpon Springs Police Department. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lauren Stoia and Dan Baeza.