A Cincinnati man is facing 20 to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking heroin laced with carfentanil. Phillip Watkins was charged with selling tainted heroin and attempting to murder a witness he thought was going to testify against him.
"This is the first federal carfentanil trafficking case in the country," says U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman.
Watkins was arrested on the trafficking charges in September, 2016. Authorities uncovered and thwarted the murder plot while he was in custody awaiting trial.
He was arrested alongside Jeanetta Crawford. Court records say the couple sold carfentanil-laced heroin to a person who then overdosed. The documents report Watkins later believed that victim intended to testify against him and wrote letters to five people directing them to take action against the potential witness.
Watkins appeared before U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott September 7. The court is conducting a pre-sentencing investigation. A sentencing date hasn't yet been set.
Carfentanil is an animal tranquilizer and a fentanyl analog. Authorities say both are rampant in the region's heroin trade making the opioid epidemic increasingly worse.