On October 2, a former marine admitted that he aided and abetted in the distribution of pills with detectable quantities of oxycodone and fentanyl. The pills reportedly resulted in the death of another marine who took them during a party.
According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina Former Camp Lejeune Marine 24-year-old Marcos Jamie Villegas from St. Charles Illinois pleaded guilty in a federal court before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle. Events leading to the plea began on April 14, 2017, after Villegas and 20-year-old United States Marine Corporal Mark M. Mambulao attended a party in a North Carolina residence. In the course of the party, Villegas gave Mambulao pills that he and Marine Sergeant Anthony P. Tognietti had purchased from a dark web drug vendor. On the vendor’s advert, the pills had reportedly been described as oxycodone laced with fentanyl.
On the morning of April 15, 2017, Villegas found Mambulao unconscious. Mambulao was immediately rushed to Onslow Memorial Hospital, North Carolina, where he died shortly after arrival. An autopsy on Mambulao’s body revealed that he had succumbed to a fentanyl overdose. The discovery led to investigations by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).
A few weeks after the Mambulao’s death, the investigators found and seized similar pills from Villegas’s barracks room. The pills tested positive for fentanyl. Analysis of Villegas’s phone revealed that he had been discussing drug purchase plans with his accomplice. Further investigations by the NCIS in partnership with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) showed that the pills purchased by Villegas and Tognietti had originated from an illicit drugs manufacturer and dark web Vendor based in Texas.
The vendor was subsequently identified as 30-year-old Alaa Mohammed Allawi from Iraq. Allawi was arrested on May 17, 2017, after authorities executed a search warrant on his stash house in Fort Bend County. The search resulted in the seizure of 500 grams of fentanyl powder, 500 grams of methamphetamine, 500 grams of cocaine, 10 kilograms of Hydrocodone pills laced with fentanyl, 4kgs of Adderall pills, and 5kgs of Xanax. The cops also seized multiple industrial size pill presses and four firearms. Authorities estimated that Allawi sold more than 850,000 pills that included oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl, Adderall pills laced with methamphetamine and Xanax pills.
Allawi pleaded guilty on June 21, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl resulting in death and serious bodily harm, and other charges. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on October 3, 2019.
Tognietti was charged with distributing a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of oxycodone and fentanyl, and aiding and abetting. He pleaded guilty on April 17, 2019, and will be sentenced on October 2019.
United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that Villegas pleaded guilty to the same charges as Tognietti. The attorney did not reveal when Villegas will be sentenced. Villegas and Tognietti could each be sentenced to 20 years in prison.