According to a recent announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Ohio, Customs officers seized an international package filled with narcotics. Then they seized a second one. Both packages contained a recently-scheduled fentanyl analog. According to the announcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection received word of the package as it shipped from China to a United States Post Office in Ohio. They, the Customs authorities, then sent word to Homeland Security Investigations in Ohio.
Special agents from the Homeland Security Investigations department (HSI) examined the package after it landed in Ohio. According to the case affidavit, the agents opened the package on March 13. Upon an initial examination of the package contents, officers noted the presence of a “a white crystallized substance.” The substance, according to the investigators, resembled illegal narcotics of some sort. Drug traffickers often ship their drugs from China, officers explained in the affidavit. Despite the officer’s extensive research into crystalline substances located within packages of mail, the lead HSI agent needed more proof.
As is often the case when an unidentified powder lands in the hands of law enforcement, the substance underwent an intensive drug screening.
Not literally in the hands of law enforcement; police started handling random white powder with much more care following recent carfentanil scares. And not just carfentanil, the incredibly potent animal tranquilizer distributed under the name “Wildnil.” – nearly every analog of the legal painkiller, fentanyl, scared the mainstream media enough that fentanyl is now often described solely as an illegal, designer, and “synthetic” opioid.
Law enforcement took extra precautions as well, although seemingly rooted in more substantial endence. Like most drugs with an above average potency, fentanyl and its increasingly bioavailable analogs pass through the skin with ease. And some some of the more potent of those analogs—3-Methylfentanyl, along with the famed carfentanil, for instance—pass through the air with just as much ease. In nearly every location where an analog of such potency surfaced, authorities stayed away from the crime scene until hazmat crews neutralized any threat. A single inhalation could be an officer’s last once.
In this case, the HSI agents received the test results in enough time to immediately identify a second package on March 20. Like the first package, Customs spotted Package #2 as it arrived from Hong Kong. The sender shipped both packages to the same person, a 33-year-old from North Ridgeville named Daniel Rogerson-Wise. Both the first and second packages contained 10 grams of Fluoro IsoButyryl fentanyl or 4-FBF for short.
Shortly after the arrival of the second pack, a law enforcement officer posed as a postal employee and made contact with Rogerson-Wise. He confirmed, over the phone, that he expected packages from China. Upon acknowledgement of the ordered packages, HSI agents replaced the 4-FBF with a non-narcotic substitute. Then, with the North Ridgeville Police Department, HSI conducted a controlled delivery.
After an unwelcomed meeting with the police, Rogerson-Wise explained he ordered the Fluoro IsoButyryl fentanyl but believed that the drug was legal. He explained that, to him, the Fluoro IsoButyryl was no different than any other semi-legal research chemical. The affidavit revealed that the North Ridgeville man admitted to ordering 30 grams of the substance.
Like many so-called “designer drugs,” this fentanyl look-a-like recently landed on a DEA emergency ban list. Had Rogerson-Wise ordered only months before, the analog would not explicitly have fallen into an illegal drug category. The DEA warned of the dangers of Fentanyl abuse in 2016 and added the drug to Schedule 1. Since then, they added even more analogs to an emergency ban focused on opioid abuse.
Rogerson-Wise faces “attempting to possess with intent to distribute a fentanyl analogue.”