Public Safety

Cedar Falls men indicted for distributing elephant tranquilizer mixed with marijuana, cocaine

(File photo) Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(File photo) Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Two Cedar Falls men were indicted in federal court for distributing a powerful narcotic, carfentanil, which isn’t approved for humans but is used as an elephant tranquilizer.

Cameron Lensmeyer and Evan Sage, both 20, were each charged last week in U.S. District Court with one count of possessing with intent to distribute carfentanil with a mixture of marijuana and/or cocaine. Sage has also been charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The indictment shows Lensmeyer possessed with intent to distribute carfentanil and marijuana on June 30. Sage is also accused of possessing with intent to distribute carfentanil, marijuana, and cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of those drug crimes on June 30. 

Evidence during a detention hearing Wednesday shows the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force conducted a search June 30 of Lensmeyer’s and Sage’s shared Cedar Falls residence. During the search, investigators seized over 800 blue pills that appeared to be prescription oxycodone pills, over $20,000 cash, over 30 grams of cocaine, over 600 grams of marijuana, and a loaded .32 caliber handgun. 

Later testing determined that the blue pills contained carfentanil, according to testimony at that hearing. Carfentanil is a powerful narcotic that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. 

A public warning to the public and law enforcement about the health and safety risks of carfentanil back in 2016, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that DEA, local law enforcement and first responders started seeing the presence of the narcotic in 2016 and it has been linked to a significant number of overdose deaths in various parts of the country, the DEA reported

Improper handling of carfentanil, as well as fentanyl and other fentanyl-related compounds, has deadly consequences, according to the DEA.

Carfentanil is used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large mammals, according to the DEA. The lethal dose range for humans is unknown.

If convicted, Lensmeyer faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and a lifetime of supervised release following any prison term.

Sage, if convicted, faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, a $5.2 million fine and a lifetime of supervised release. ­ 

Trial is set for both men March 26 in U.S. District Court.   

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Chatham is prosecuting the case and the case is being investigated by the Tri‑County Drug Enforcement Task Force.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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