LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — 32-year-old Jemel Foster of Little Rock was sentenced to 30 years in prison for distributing fentanyl, which resulted in a person's death by overdose.
Foster was also convicted in a trial in July 2022 for the possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson sentenced Foster to 300 months for the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, 240 months for possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver, 120 months for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and 60 months for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
The 60-month sentence will run consecutively to the 300-month sentence, resulting in a total of 360 months in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Today’s lengthy sentence emphasizes the reality that drug crime is violent crime,” stated United States Attorney Jonathan D. Ross. “A young woman has needlessly lost her life because of the violence that accompanies drug crime. Illegal fentanyl distribution is a scourge in our community that needs to be stopped, and this sentence should make clear that there are severe consequences for anyone who chooses to illegally sell fentanyl. We are thankful this defendant will no longer be able to peddle this deadly substance in our community.”
On July 6, 2021, a grand jury charged Foster in a superseding indictment with the four counts he took to trial— all of which were related to two evenings in January 2021.
Evidence provided at the trial revealed that on the evening of January 11, 2021, a woman purchased fentanyl from Foster around 7:22 p.m. in the parking lot of a Little Rock Walgreens location.
According to testimony from the medical examiner who conducted the victim's autopsy, the woman died from a fatal fentanyl dose around midnight at her mother’s nearby home.
The following morning, the woman's family discovered her body and contacted the Little Rock Police Department, and later the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
DEA agents involved in the case explained at the trial how they were able to identify Foster as the source of the drugs from data found in the victim’s phone.
The DEA assumed Foster would be unaware of the woman's death and used her phone to contact him and request more fentanyl on January 12, 2021.
Foster agreed to meet at the same location as the night before and was arrested by the DEA upon arrival with eight bags of fentanyl in his pants, totaling approximately four grams, and a firearm in his vehicle.
The bags of fentanyl found on Foster’s person matched the two bags of fentanyl that were found on the victim’s body during her autopsy.
“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat we are facing today, killing Americans at record rates,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jarad Harper. “Last year alone, nearly 108,000 lives were lost to a drug poisoning, with fentanyl driving this record increase.
There is no safe dosage of fentanyl, and even trace amounts can be lethal.
"Drug traffickers are mixing fentanyl in other illicit drugs in an effort to drive addiction and create repeat buyers," Harper added. "This investigation highlights the efforts of DEA, our law enforcement partners, and the United States Attorney’s Office who work tirelessly every day to bring dangerous drug dealers to justice.”
Both the medical examiner and state toxicologist testified that it was their opinion that fentanyl caused the victim’s death.
In addition to his prison sentence, Foster was sentenced to three years of supervised release on each count to run concurrently.
The investigation was conducted by DEA, along with the Little Rock Police Department and Arkansas State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Givens and Benecia Moore.