Public Safety

Michigan man convicted of sending drugs from 'dark web' to friend who overdosed

Hallucinogenic drug was actually fentanyl that killed her

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Michigan man who ordered drugs from the “dark web” and shipped them to a friend in Dubuque, who died after using the drugs, was convicted Thursday in federal court.  

Jay Rickert, 28, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was convicted in U.S. District Court of willfully causing the distribution of a controlled substance.

During the plea hearing, Rickert admitted he had a controlled substance shipped in February 2015 from a supplier in Canada to his friend in Dubuque. Rickert intended to order DMT, a hallucinogenic drug, from the dark web — an encrypted network that requires special software to access — and have it shipped to his friend in Dubuque.

The supplier in Canada instead shipped the woman fentanyl, a potent opioid used as pain medication, according to court documents. Rickert indicated that fentanyl and DMT are both white powdery substances that look virtually identical. 

According to the criminal complaint, the woman, believing that the substance Rickert ordered for her was DMT, used the fentanyl and died. An autopsy concluded that the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose.   

Rickert was taken into custody by U.S. marshals following the plea hearing and will remain in jail pending sentencing. Rickert faces up to 20 years in federal prison, a $1 million fine and at least three years and up to life on supervised release following any prison term.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Lightfoot and was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA, Linn County Sheriff's Office, Cedar Rapids and Marion police departments; Marion Police Department; and Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement and Dubuque Drug Task Force, consisting of the Dubuque Police Department and the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office. 

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