Federal Jury Convicts Minnesota Man for Distributing Fentanyl that Caused 11 Overdose Deaths
ST. PAUL, Minn. – A federal jury found a Hopkins, Minnesota man guilty of distributing controlled substances, including fentanyl, which resulted in the deaths of 11 people and caused serious bodily injury to four people, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
Following a 10-day jury trial, Aaron Rhy Broussard, 31, was convicted on 17 counts, including conspiracy, importation of fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury, and possession with intent to distribute controlled substance analogues.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2014 through December 6, 2016, Broussard obtained controlled substances, including fentanyl, from China-based drug suppliers. Broussard conspired with his China-based suppliers to smuggle what would prove to be deadly drugs into the country. Broussard marketed these drugs for sale on his website, PlantFoodUSA.net, under the guise of selling plant food. He then used the United States mail and a United States Postal Service “Click-N-Ship” account to send out packages of deadly drugs around the country.
“Today’s verdict is the culmination of a multi-jurisdictional investigation into an individual who used innovative techniques to supply an incredibly lethal substance to an unwitting community,” Drug Enforcement Administration Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said. “In the time since Broussard’s arrest in 2016, our nation has seen an unprecedented rise in overdose deaths attributed to synthetic substances such as fentanyl. As Broussard is now held accountable for his actions, the DEA continues to educate communities on the dangers of this potent substance while also working with our local, state, tribal and federal partners to remove the threat of drug traffickers pushing this highly addictive substance.”
According to the evidence presented at trial, on March 12, 2016, Broussard placed a drug order for 100 grams of 4-FA, a controlled substance analogue, which was shipped from China. The package actually contained 100 grams of 99 percent pure fentanyl. Although Broussard had experienced a similar mix-up in August 2015 and was repeatedly told to test his drugs, he just didn’t bother. 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 customers had ordered and were expecting to receive an amphetamine analogue, similar to Adderall. They were not opiate users and had no tolerance for the deadly fentanyl Broussard sent them. After ingesting the fentanyl, believing it was Adderall, 11 of the customers died from a fentanyl overdose, and at least four customers suffered serious bodily injury. Broussard continued distributing his deadly packages despite hearing about adverse reactions. 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.
“Aaron Broussard was a black-market drug dealer,” U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger said. “Concerned only with his profits, Broussard sold illegal, dangerous drugs over the internet. The defendant’s deadly fentanyl killed 11 young, healthy, and vibrant victims, and caused serious bodily harm to at least four others. Even after Broussard found out his customers were overdosing, he callously continued to ship out deadly drugs. I thank the jury for their service in a difficult case. I offer my condolences and gratitude to the family members of victims across the county who traveled to the District of Minnesota to testify at trial. I applaud the trial team for their work in bringing the defendant to justice.”
“The prosecution and conviction of Aaron Broussard is an excellent example of multiple law enforcement agencies combining their expertise and resources to conduct investigations with the common goal of taking down internet vendors of illicit narcotics. Broussard worked under the belief he was an anonymous individual selling dangerous narcotics, such as the deadly fentanyl uncovered in this investigation, which resulted in the deaths of almost a dozen citizens. U.S. Postal Inspectors are committed to continuing our work to dismantle drug trafficking operations to keep USPS customers and employees safe from greedy drug traffickers who favor profit over human lives,” stated Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonça of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Denver Division.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the University of Minnesota Police Department, the Peoria Heights (Illinois) Police Department, the Dallas (Texas) Police Department, the Broome County (New York) Sheriff’s Office, the Volusia County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office, the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Office, Garrard County (Kentucky) Sheriff’s Office, Hazel Green (Wisconsin) Police Department, and the Atlanta (Georgia) Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas M. Hollenhorst and Melinda A. Williams tried the case.