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Feds: Man trafficked enough fentanyl ‘to kill every person in Cincinnati’

The drugs were sold in and around the city, prosecutors say.
The drugs were sold in and around the city, prosecutors say.(WTOC)
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:35 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Cincinnati Enquirer) - Jan Murrell was heard on a wiretap coordinating the distribution of enough fentanyl “to kill every person in Cincinnati,” prosecutors said in documents filed before Murrell was sentenced Tuesday on a drug conspiracy charge.

Murrell’s sentencing in federal court in Cincinnati was the latest in a case that involves 13 defendants and that officials say has ties to a Mexican cartel, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer. Two homes in Columbia Tusculum were used to store and package drugs, prosecutors say. The case involves at least 10 kilos of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

The drugs were sold in and around the city, prosecutors say.

The accused head of the drug ring, Charles Oden, has been described by prosecutors as a full-time drug dealer. Oden pleaded guilty earlier this month. He was heard in intercepted phone calls coordinating a resupply of drugs from California, according to court documents obtained by the Enquirer.

During a seven-day period in September 2018, prosecutors say Murrell communicated with Oden several times “about the distribution of kilogram quantities of fentanyl.” Prosecutors outlined some of the calls in documents filed in advance of Murrell’s sentencing:

On Sept. 12, 2018, Oden asked Murrell if he wanted “a whole one,” referring to a kilogram of fentanyl. A kilogram is about 2.2. pounds.

Murrell said he did and later asked if Oden would reduce the price if Murrell’s customer bought two kilograms. Oden said “no” to that request. Murrell and Oden met up later that night and Murrell bought one kilogram of fentanyl, the documents say. In one call, the price of a kilo of fentanyl was discussed as being $45,000.

The next day, Sept. 13, Murrell called Oden and said “(I) need another one right now.”

Two days later, according to the documents, Murrell ordered more fentanyl, and Oden’s girlfriend delivered it to Murrell’s home.

On Sept. 17, federal agents arrested Murrell, Oden and several others. Searches of “stash houses” the organization used, including one in Columbia Tusculum, turned up more than six kilos of fentanyl and $100,000 in cash, according to court documents.

Murrell, 52, who prosecutors say has nine previous felony convictions, kept a .40-caliber Glock handgun with an extended magazine in his home. Agents found it inside a floor heating vent along with $5,000 in cash, the Enquirer reports.

His first felony conviction was in 1986, for receiving stolen property, prosecutors said, and he hasn’t been legally allowed to possess a gun since then.

In the recent federal case, Murrell pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute fentanyl. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett sentenced him to nine years in prison, which is significantly longer than any of his previous sentences.

“The relatively shorter prison sentences Murrell has received in the past have not worked to deter him from committing other offenses that put the community at risk,” prosecutors said in court documents.

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