Federal agents raid alleged fentanyl pill-manufacturing lab in Vancouver storage unit, arrest two men - oregonlive.com

2022-10-15 02:49:01 By : Ms. Ella Liu

Alleged clandestine counterfeit pill lab

A confidential informant and an undercover federal agent told the suspected drug dealers they were interested in buying 300,000 fentanyl pills in exchange for cocaine.

But they wanted to see the two alleged dealers’ clandestine pill lab before they’d agree to the deal, according to a federal affidavit.

On Wednesday, the undercover agent and informant followed the alleged fentanyl dealers from the Owl’s Nest bar on Portland’s Jantzen Beach, across the Interstate Bridge to Mancaves at Pearson Storage on East Reserve Street in Vancouver, Wash., Homeland Security Investigations agent Alex Nguyen wrote in the affidavit.

The informant and undercover agent were led to Unit 25. Inside, they saw a white cargo trailer parked. When their hosts unlocked the trailer, the visitors reported seeing a large pill press that they were told could manufacture 4,800 counterfeit prescription pills per hour, Nguyen wrote. A small safe was also spotted inside the trailer, according to the affidavit.

Later that day, federal agents arrested the two men who prosecutors say made and distributed hundreds of thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl out of the makeshift lab.

James Dunn, Jr., 61, of Milwaukie, and Joshua Clay Wilfong, 50, of Vancouver, appeared Thursday afternoon in federal court in downtown Portland, accused of conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl.

The investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office began in May 2021.

When the two men were arrested, agents seized about 10,000 blue counterfeit M30 pills from Wilfong’s F-350 truck and about $50,000 in cash from Dunn’s Equinox, the affidavit said.

Investigators also obtained a search warrant for the Vancouver storage unit and seized a pill press and associated lab equipment, according to court records.

Dunn, prosecutors allege, bought fentanyl in Mexico and smuggled it through California to Oregon and Washington to manufacture the counterfeit pills. Dunn would give the fentanyl to Wilfong, who would produce the pills in the makeshift laboratory, according to investigators.

Wilfong and Dunn are accused of selling an average of 10,000 pills a week.

“Once the pills were ready to be distributed, customers would call or text Dunn and order a specified amount of pills for a predetermined cost. Once the pill order is placed, Dunn, at times, would personally deliver the pills and complete the transaction,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin wrote to a judge in a motion to keep both defendants in custody.

A confidential informant and undercover agent bought more than 8,000 fentanyl pills from Dunn and Wilfong since the investigation began, according to Kerin.

When raiding the lab with a search warrant, agents found the pill press, lab equipment and storage unit “coated in a fine dust, believed to be fentanyl powder generated from the manufacture of pills,” Kerin wrote to the court.

Agents locked down the unit and decided to bring in a Hazmat crew to process the scene, due to health and safety concerns, Kerin wrote.

During an initial search, binding agents and blue powder for manufacturing the pills were seen inside the storage unit, as well as notes documenting prior manufacturing of pills, according to the prosecutor.

Wilfong told an informant that he regularly ran test batches of pills in an effort “to perfect the potency and form of the pills,” Kerin wrote to the court.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo Thursday afternoon ordered both Dunn and Wilfong to remain in custody.

Email mbernstein@oregonian.com; 503-221-8212

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