POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – A 32-year-old Pocatello woman was sentenced Thursday to more than 15 years in federal prison for distribution of fentanyl, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced.
The fentanyl distributed by Hailey M. Card was consumed by a Pocatello man who died from a fentanyl overdose.
According to court records, on Jan. 15, 2022, Pocatello Police Department officers responded to a report regarding the unattended death of a Pocatello man (K.A.). Upon arrival, the officers discovered drug paraphernalia and other items indicating an opiate overdose. Interviews with residents revealed that K.A. had left the home around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2022, to go to the store and get gasoline, returned around midnight in a normal state and went to his basement bedroom. At around 2:30 a.m., a family member found K.A. deceased.
A subsequent investigation uncovered cellphone records, text messages, Facebook Messenger exchanges, and witness statements that showed in early morning of Jan. 15, 2022, Card sold the fentanyl that K.A. returned home and consumed. An autopsy performed on Jan. 18, 2022, at the Ada County Coroner's Office, confirmed K.A. died from acute fentanyl intoxication.
“The battle against fentanyl requires all of us to work together,” U.S. Attorney Hurwit said. “In this case, we had exceptional cooperation between law enforcement and the coroner’s offices that allowed us to obtain the evidence we needed to obtain justice and to protect others from the tragic fate of the deceased in this case.”
Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye sentenced Card to 188 months in federal prison. Card, upon completion of her prison sentence, was also ordered to serve an additional three years of supervised release. Card pleaded guilty to the charge on July 20, 2023.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for severe pain management and prescribed in the form of transdermal patches or lozenges. While prescription fentanyl can be diverted for misuse, most cases of fentanyl-related overdoses in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl that is sold through illicit drug markets for its heroin-like effect.
Idaho in general has seen a massive influx of counterfeit pills in the last several years. The pills are mass-produced by criminal drug networks and falsely marketed as legitimate prescription pills. The pills are made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall).
Counterfeit pills are becoming more and more common place. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its law enforcement partners seized nationally more than 59.6 million fentanyl pills and approximately 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder during 2022. Despite law enforcement efforts to educate the public and stop the flow of these illegal drugs, the number of overdose deaths related to these pills continues to rise. For more information regarding this concerning trend please visit: https://odp.idaho.gov/opioid-use-and-overdose-workgroup/.
U.S. Attorney Hurwit commended the cooperative efforts of the Pocatello Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Idaho State Police, and the Bannock County Coroner’s Office, which led to charges. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Paskett.