GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Two Green Bay men have been sentenced amid the ongoing fentanyl epidemic for distributing the deadly drug.

On May 24 and June 1, Judge William Griesbach sentenced 24-year-old Don A.K. James Jr. and 34-year-old Frederick L. Brewer to 15 years and 12 years in federal prison after a jury convicted them of Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl, Possessing Fentanyl With Intent to Distribute, and Distributing Fentanyl.

Evidence presented at the trial showed that in January and February 2022, Brewer sold fentanyl pills to an informant working for the Brown County Drug Task Force. The pills had been illicitly manufactured to resemble Percocet in the form of blue M30 pills.

After the Brown County Drug Task Force arrested Brewer, they learned that James, Brewer’s brother, had negotiated with an Arizona-based source to buy thousands of counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl.

James flew to Arizona in January 2022 to buy at least 15,000 pills. While there, he sent a video to a large-scale buyer in the Green Bay area. The video showed that James had at least 19,000 pills to distribute.

James flew back to Wisconsin and boasted to the buyer that he had 30,000 fentanyl pills and was ready to do business. Brewer conspired with and assisted James in the fentanyl-trafficking operation, including when James returned with the pills from Arizona.

When James was arrested, he attempted to swallow a bag of 58 fentanyl pills. After a several-minute struggle, during which authorities administered Narcan to protect James from a potential overdose, James feared he had swallowed two pills and pleaded for additional medical help.

Investigators quickly summoned emergency personnel, and James was rushed to the hospital for medical clearance. After being treated, James posted bail and was released, only to be re-arrested in June 2022 for possessing over 750 fentanyl pills with the intent to distribute.

During the sentencing, Judge Griesbach emphasized that trafficking fentanyl is equivalent to distributing poison. The judge cited recent data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that six in ten counterfeit pills tested at DEA Crime Labs contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

In 2021, the DEA determined that 40% of pills were potentially lethal, but by 2022, the fatal dosage increased to 60% of tested pills.

According to the DEA, fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country. It is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

This case was investigated by the Brown County Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.