SALT LAKE CITY – A West Jordan man faces federal charges of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death and conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in a two-count indictment returned by a grand jury late Wednesday afternoon.
The indictment alleges that John Aaron Favro, age 24, of West Jordan, distributed fentanyl on Nov. 18, 2016, resulting in the overdose death of a person identified in the indictment as M.K.K.
According to a complaint filed in the case, M.K.K. was pronounced dead Nov. 21, 2016, from an apparent overdose at an apartment in Murray. M.K.K. was found during a welfare check after not being seen or heard from since Nov. 18, 2016. According to the complaint, a shoe box containing two small blue pills labelled A215, an imprint that signifies oxycodone, was found next to her on the bed. A toxicology analysis of M.K.K.’s blood revealed high levels of fentanyl. According to the Utah Medical Examiner, she died as a result of fentanyl intoxication.
Salt Lake City DEA agents spoke with M.K.K.’s parents regarding her death. According to the complaint, the parents told the agents about an individual with whom they had been in contact at the time of M.K.K.’s death when they had been desperately trying to find M.K.K, the complaint alleges. They tracked a phone number on their family cellular phone plan records to Favro.
The DEA investigation of Favro started in 2016. It continued into 2019 as agents gathered evidence, completed an examination of M.K.K.’s cell phone records leading up to her death, and conducted interviews with others, including a confidential source who told agents in January 2019 that he/she believed Favro was M.K.K.’s supply source for fentanyl at the time of her death. According to the complaint, M.K.K. who was participating in Drug Court, was introduced to Favro through another Drug Court participant.
According to the complaint, confidential sources indicated Favro sold more than 10,000 fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills. A second confidential source, who worked as Favro’s co-conspirator, told agents he/she personally suppled Favro with 500-1000 pills at a time on at least 20 occasions over the months they worked together selling pills. Agents seized fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills from the second confidential source and test results confirmed the pills contained fentanyl. The second confidential source sold fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills in Utah from before June 2015 through May 2017. Two other confidential sources told agents they supplied Favro with fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills for resale during the summer of 2016.
Favro is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in the indictment Thursday at 2:45 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner. The potential maximum penalty for each count the Favro indictment is life in prison. Both counts have minimum mandatory sentences. The distribution count resulting in death has a potential 20-year minimum mandatory sentence and the conspiracy count has a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence.
Earlier this summer, U.S. Attorney John W. Huber encouraged law enforcement officers to screen all cases involving fentanyl with his office for potential federal prosecution.
“Fentanyl is at a high threat level for us. We are asking our law enforcement partners to help us disrupt, dismantle, and deter fentanyl distribution in Utah and prevent fentanyl-related overdose deaths,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said. “We need to use every tool we have.”
Huber said he has a clear message for drug traffickers: bring fentanyl into Utah and plan on having an initial appearance in federal court.
According to DEA information, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment. Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Clandestinely produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico.
Given the risks of fentanyl, federal prosecutors believe there is a compelling federal interest in reviewing every case. Huber says his prosecutors will screen for evidence of distribution or simple possession. Additionally, his office will pursue any appropriate sentencing enhancements.
Indictments and complaints are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in these documents are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the case. Special agents and task force officers from the DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force and IRS-Criminal Investigations are investigating the case. The U.S. Marshals Service is also assisting with the case.
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