Another Defendant To Plead Guilty In Federal Fentanyl Death Case


TEXARKANA, Texas–Of five defendants charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl with a death resulting in a federal court in Texarkana, one pleaded guilty this month and another has announced his intention to plead guilty.

Darrell Montrell “Monty” Trotter, 34, was first indicted in February 2022 after investigators executed a search of his home that resulted in the discovery of 500 fentanyl-containing pills which had been made to look like a prescription opioid. Fakes like the ones allegedly found in Trotter’s possession have been linked to scores of overdoses and deaths in the U.S. as they may contain deadly amounts of fentanyl.

In October 2022 a superseding indictment that added four additional defendants and an allegation that the drug dealing was linked to a June 2022 overdose death was issued. The superseding indictment also accused the defendants of carrying a weapon in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and seeks the forfeiture of a number of firearms.

Courtney Lewis, 37, pleaded guilty May 4 at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Boone Baxter in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine from sometime in or before November 2021 up to June 2022. A plea document filed in the case and signed by Lewis said that he conspired with co-defendant Nickie Jo Mattison, 33, also known as Nickie Hall and others to distribute over 40 grams of fentanyl and over 50 grams of meth.

Lewis has admitted to acquiring 70 fentanyl pills in November 2021 and distributing them to another person, to selling 27.5 grams of pure meth to another person in February 2022, to selling 100.2 grams of pure meth in March 2022, to selling 439.6 grams of pure meth in April 2022 and to selling fentanyl pills to Mattison in June 2022.

According to court documents, Lewis agreed that he pocketed about $7,000 from his criminal conduct.

Trotter filed a notice of a plea agreement in the case on Friday. A date for him to appear in court for the plea has not yet been scheduled.

Charges remain pending against Christopher Kyle Candelaria, aka, “Candyman,” 32, Mattison and Kolton Todd Saulsbury, 34, court records show. Saulsbury is currently free on a $10,000 unsecured appearance bond while the other defendants remain in custody.

The government is seeking the forfeiture of a number of weapons seized in 2021 in connection with the case. The firearms include a handgun, three rifles and ammunition seized March 9, 2021, and a pistol, 12-gauge shotgun, rifle and ammunition seized on Dec. 14, 2021, according to the superseding indictment.

If found guilty of conspiracy to distribute the drugs with a death resulting, the defendants face a 20-year minimum with up to life in federal prison possible, as well as a fine up to $10 million.

If found guilty of carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, they could see sentences of five years to life in federal prison which must be served consecutively to any term imposed for the underlying crime

The defendants who have not pleaded or announced an intention to plead guilty are scheduled for a jury trial July 24 before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III in Texarkana’s downtown federal building.

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