NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Seven people now face federal charges after an “extraordinary” number of drug overdoses earlier this year in the Murfreesboro area.
The outbreak happened in July when over a dozen overdoses were reported in a 24-hour period. At least two people died while at least six others were hospitalized.
The overdoses were the result of people ingesting a dangerous synthetic opioid called fentanyl. It’s commonly prescribed for pain management and is known for being 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Five of the seven people were indicted on nine counts Wednesday. Those people are as follows:
- Jonathan Barrett, a.k.a. “Punky,” 29, of Murfreesboro
- Eric Falkowski, 34, of Kissimmee, Florida
- Davi Valles, Jr., 25, of Nashville
- Johnny Williams, 30, of Murfreesboro
- Jason Moss, 26, of Murfreesboro
See their mug shots at the bottom of this story. They face the following federal charges:
- Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, the use of which resulted in death and serious bodily injury
- Distribution of fentanyl, the use of which resulted in death
- Five additional counts of distribution of fentanyl, the use of which caused serious bodily injury
- Falkowski, Valles, Williams and Moss were also charged with one additional count of distribution of fentanyl that resulted in serious bodily injury
- Falkowski was charged with one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death
The two others charged in the case are Jennifer Dogonski, 33, of Murfreesboro, and Preston Davis, 22, of Madison.
Dogonski was previously charged on July 29 with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, the use of which caused serious bodily injury. She has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
Davis was charged on Sept. 13 with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, the use of which resulted in death.
Davis was also charged with possession of an AR-15 assault rifle in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Davis’ charges are pending.
Six of the defendants are currently in custody. Moss remains at large and is a fugitive. Anyone who knows where he may be is urged to contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
If convicted, the defendants charged in this indictment face a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison, up to life and up to a $1,000,000 fine for each count charged.
Details of case outlined in indictment
According to officials, Falkowski moved his pill operation to the home of Davis in Madison after a search was conducted at his home in Florida and his pill presses were seized.
At that home in Madison, court documents allege authorities found a pill press, multiple dyes for embedding text onto pills, a pill grinder, fentanyl, alprazolam, and other drug manufacturing equipment.
The indictment alleges Davis, Valles, Barrett, Williams, and Moss all distributed the pills produced by Falkowski.
During the period of July 5 and 6 this year, they allegedly distributed hundreds of counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl, with the markings “A333” in and around the Murfreesboro, Tennessee area.
On July 6, 2016, Barrett learned that some people who purchased the counterfeit pills had overdosed, and that one had possibly died, and continued to distribute the counterfeit pills.
In total, the indictment alleges that the distribution of fentanyl caused two individuals to die and six persons to experience serious bodily injury requiring medical intervention.
“This organization is charged with making and distributing a lethal cocktail that poisoned our community,” US Attorney David Rivera said.
“One of these defendants continued to sell these lethal counterfeit drugs even after learning that individuals may have died or were being hospitalized as a result,” he added.
“It’s clearly an epidemic,” said Christopher Tersigni with the DEA. “It’s not probably going to go away in the near future. This is something that is going to plague our state; it will probably get worse before it get better.”
“They are profiting from people’s addictions and couldn’t care less than the potential is death,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said. “Turning to the streets to find your next fix isn’t the answer, and it very well may cause you your life.”
Fire departments in both Rutherford County and La Vergne have since started carrying naloxone, a medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverse the effects of overdoses.
The State of Tennessee has already issued an official public warning about fentanyl in the hopes of making the public aware of how dangerous it can be. Click here to read what you need to know about the drug.