Man sentenced to life in prison for distributing fentanyl that caused deaths of 11 people

Aaron Rhy Broussard, 31, was found guilty in March for the 2016 overdose deaths

Andrea Blanco
Tuesday 13 September 2022 17:11 BST
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A Minnesota man has been sentenced to life in prison for distributing fentanyl and causing the deaths of 11 people, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The sentencing verdict on Monday comes six months after Aaron Rhy Broussard, 31, was found guilty on 17 counts including conspiracy, importation of fentanyl and distribution of fentanyl resulting in death and serious bodily injury for the 2016 overdose deaths.

He obtained illicit substances from China suppliers who smuggled them into the US, advertised the product on his disguise website PlantFoodUSA.Net and then mailed the drugs through the USPS, notes the DoJ. Consumers were expecting to receive an amphetamine analogue, similar to Adderall.

Broussard, who initially ordered 100 grams of a far less lethal controlled substance, had a delivery “mix-up” in 2015 that nearly killed some of his customers but continued to distribute a second batch containing 100 grams of 99per cent pure fentanyl. He even asked for a discount from China distributors for the mistake but mailed the fentanyl regardless.

“Eleven lives lost. Families, friends, and communities forever changed by the devastation brought on by Aaron Broussard’s deadly fentanyl,” US Attorney Andrew Luger said after the sentencing. “Although the trauma felt by the victims can never be undone and the true cost can never be calculated, Mr Broussard will now spend the remainder of his life behind bars.”

Broussard began distributing drugs through his plant food website scheme in 2014. The order that killed nearly a dozen was placed on 12 March 2016, the DoJ said.

Four other customers suffered serious bodily injury. The victims were residents of Illinois, Texas, New York, Florida, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia and Minnesota.

“Although Broussard had experienced a similar mix-up in August 2015 and was repeatedly told to test his drugs, he did not do so. Between March 31 and April 27, 2016, Broussard sent his branded packages containing fentanyl to more than a dozen customers throughout the United States,” the Department said in a statement.

“Even after he learned that several customers had been hospitalized and nearly died, Broussard never warned his customers not to take the deadly drugs. Broussard did reach out to his suppliers in China to request a discount on his next drug delivery.”

Fentanyl is 100 times more potent and only two milligrams of the substance can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Analysis from the agency has determined 42percent of pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 milligrams.

“Let today’s sentencing serve as a wakeup call to the drug traffickers pushing fentanyl in and around our communities,” Omaha DEA agent Justin King said on Monday about Broussard’s sentencing.

“A mere two milligrams of fentanyl, equivalent in size to a few grains of salt, is enough to potentially kill a person. The threat of fentanyl is real, and the traffickers pushing this deadly substance will be held accountable for the lives they’ve taken, the families they’ve hurt and the communities they’ve devastated.”

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