TEXARKANA, Texas–The lead defendant in a case involving fake prescription opioid pills laced with potentially deadly fentanyl pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance before a federal judge in Texarkana.
Darell “Monty” Montrell Trotter, 34, faces up to life in prison at sentencing. He pleaded guilty Thursday at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Boone Baxter in Texarkana’s downtown federal building.
Trotter 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 added four additional defendants and an allegation that the drug dealing was linked to a June 2022 overdose death.
According to documents filed in the case Thursday, Trotter conspired with others to distribute fentanyl in the Eastern District of Texas from before February 2012 to December 2021. Trotter specifically agreed that he possessed 480 grams of “round blue pills” marked with M30, as prescription oxycodone pills are stamped, and that he knew the pills he intended to sell in the Texarkana area didn’t come from a pharmacy.
Trotter also agreed to forfeit a pistol, a shotgun and ammunition that was seized from his home along with the 500 fentanyl pills recovered from beneath his kitchen sink Dec. 14, 2021, records show.
Co-defendant Courtney Lewis pleaded guilty May 4 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. 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.
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.
Candelaria, Mattison and Saulsbury are scheduled for trial Oct. 30 before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III in Texarkana.