A man from Akron, Ohio, was sentenced to 62 months in prison for attempting to possess and distribute counterfeit oxycodone pills.
Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler announced that Thomas Anthony Walker, Jr., 36, of Akron, Ohio, will be spending 62 months in prison for attempted possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Walker pleaded guilty to the charge in November 2021.
The case is almost entirely unremarkable. The investigation into Walker resembled any other “drugs in the mail” topic covered by this site. However, court documents included a detailed look at what appears to be an atypical controlled delivery.
Postal Inspector Marc Kudley, while working at the USPS Processing & Distribution Center in Akron, Ohio, identified a USPS Priority Mail Express package as “a suspect drug parcel based on several characteristics, including but not limited to the type of mail, origin, destination, and size.”
The Postal Inspector described the package as “a brown USPS Ready Post Mailing Carton with “Seal It. Sent It.” tape over the top and bottom seams.” The package measured 15” X 12” X 10”, weighed about five pounds, and bore $111.40 in U.S. Postage.
Inspector Kudley searched CLEAR for information about the person who had mailed the package and the intended recipient. The return address did not exist. The recipient’s name, “T. Lewis,” was also fake. CLEAR reported that Walker, who had a previous conviction for heroin possession, lived at the address listed on the package.
On April 15, 2021, investigators placed the package in a line-up with “blank packages,” which emanated no narcotics odor. A so-called “narcotic detection canine” allegedly alerted on the suspicious package. On the same day, someone signed up for text message alerts regarding the package’s delivery status from the USPS. CLEAR records identified Walker as the subscriber of the phone number provided to the USPS.
On April 16, 2021, Inspector Kudley obtained a search warrant for the package. The execution of the search warrant resulted in:
“the seizure of approximately 70 grams of round blue pills marked as “M” on one side and “30” on the other side, wrapped in clear cellophane in a clear zip-lock bag. The pills were concealed in a package of rolled up tee shirts. The markings on the pills correspond to Oxycodone Hydrochloride 30 milligram pills. Based on my experience with the seizure of pills of similar shape, color, and markings, I suspected the pills were intentionally disguised as Oxycodone Hydrochloride but contained fentanyl.”
USPS records revealed that Walker had a USPS account associated with his phone number.
“From April 17, 2021, through April 19, 2021, the USPS online account in WALKER’s name was logged into by several Internet Protocol (IP) addresses associated with Charter Communications. Furthermore, according to USPS business records, the same IP addresses associated with Charter Communications that were used for logging into the USPS account were also used to track the delivery status of the Subject Parcel using USPS.com or the USPS smartphone application. In other words, the USPS online account in WALKER’s name was used to track the delivery status of the Subject Parcel several times between April 17, 2021, and April 19, 2021. Based on the foregoing, I believe WALKER was the intended recipient of the Fentanyl pills mailed inside the Subject Parcel to 559 East Avenue in Akron, Ohio. The address of 559 East Avenue in Akron, Ohio was also listed as WALKER’s residence on his Ohio Driver’s License.”
On April 19, USPIS, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Summit County Drug Unit (SCDU), and Akron Police Department (APD) conducted a controlled delivery of the package. Officers conducted surveillance at Walker’s house while an undercover postal inspector acting as a USPS carrier delivered the package. The postal inspector left the package on the porch after receiving no response when knocking on the door.
About 25 minutes later, “an African-American male wearing a white shirt and black pants opened the front door and kicked the Subject Parcel. The individual left the Subject Parcel on the front porch and went back inside the residence.”
Roughly an hour later, “an individual wearing a purple or blue jacket, later identified as Walker, opened the front door and retrieved mail from the mailbox that was mounted on the porch next to the front door. Walker left the Subject Parcel on the porch and went back inside the residence.” Minutes after Walker returned to his house, a black Chevrolet SUV pulled into the driveway, obstructing the view of investigators. Police identified the vehicle as a Chevrolet Trax registered to Lakeyda Gardner.
Gardner then pulled out of the driveway and left. Police saw an “unknown passenger” in the vehicle. The package was still sitting on the front porch of Walker’s house.
One minute after Gardner pulled out of the driveway, a Green Infinity sedan pulled up to the house. The passenger, identified only as “individual 2,” retrieved the package and placed it in the sedan. Individual 2 got back in the vehicle and the driver, “Individual 1,” pulled out. APD officers followed the vehicle for several minutes before pulling it over. They could not find the package inside the vehicle. Inspector Kudley eventually found the unopened box near an intersection between Walker’s house and the APD traffic stop.
Inspector Kudley questioned Individual 1.
“Individual 1 said he was hanging out with Individual 2 when Individual 2 received a call from an unknown person. Individual 1 said the caller asked Individual 2 to retrieve a package. Individual 1 said Individual 2 asked for a ride to 559 East Avenue. Individual 1 said he drove Individual 2 to 559 East Avenue, where Individual 2 retrieved a package from the porch and placed it in the back of the Infinity sedan. Individual 1 said they drove away from the residence and identified the police were following them. Individual 1 said Individual 2 threw the package out of the passenger side window before being stopped by the police.”
Police found Individual 2’s phone on the floor of the car. The phone was on and “showed the contact for “Flaps(2)” with the phone number of 234-237-9484.” Investigators identified the number as Walker’s phone number.
The postal inspector questioned Individual 2. Individual 2 said Walker had called him and asked him to pick up a package from Walker’s front porch. Walker told Individual 2 that he could not pick up the box because his girlfriend had picked him up.
“Individual 2 stated he retrieved the Subject Parcel as a favor for WALKER and did not know what the box contained. Individual 2 stated he threw the Subject Parcel out of the Infinity window when he saw the police were following them. Individual 2 said he figured something was wrong with the box.”
Walker called Individual 2. With police listening to the call, Individual 2 answered the call. He told Walker that he had picked up the package but threw it out the window when he saw police tailing the car. Walker stated, “If they was on you, they wouldn’t have let you get away.” Individual 2 told Walker that he would try to find the package and then ended the call. After the call, the police released Individual 1 on the street where Individual 2 had ditched the package.
Individual 2 then called Walker and told him that he had looked for the package but could not find it.
Walker responded, “come on. You can’t be serious. They would have never let you throw that box out of the car. They gonna pull you all over, man. So now you telling me the box is gone? That big ass box just disappeared?”
Inspector Kudley wrote that he heard a turn signal in the background, indicating that Walker was driving around, searching for the package. Moments later, Walker asked Individual 2 why Individual 1 was walking down the road.
“It was apparent that Individual 1 entered WALKER’s vehicle. The conversation between WALKER and Individual 1 could be overheard through the cellular phone. WALKER asked Individual 1 what happened. Individual 1 stated, ‘They caught us’ and explained how they were stopped by the police, and the police recovered the box.”
Police later located the Chevrolet Trax and arrested Walker. Unlike most defendants covered in articles on this site, Walker did not tell the police about every crime he had ever committed:
“Walker stated he had no knowledge or ownership interest in the Subject Parcel. WALKER said he opened the front door at 559 East Avenue and saw the box sitting on the porch when he retrieved his mail. WALKER said he kicked the box since it did not belong to him. WALKER said he was later picked up by his girlfriend “Keyda” Gardner in the black Chevrolet SUV. WALKER stated he went to eat at the Sonic in Massillon, Ohio and had nothing to do with the box delivered to his residence. The interview was terminated.”