Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber has sentenced Theodore Garlow (53, Lehigh Acres) to five years in federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl. Garlow had pleaded guilty on January 10, 2023.
According to court documents, in 2021, Garlow was employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) as a Rural Carrier assigned to the Lehigh Acres Post Office. On September 30, 2021, the USPS – Office of Inspector General (OIG) received information regarding five suspicious parcels that were enroute to Garlow’s home address in Lehigh Acres. On that same date, Garlow sent text messages inquiring about the five parcels to the postal carrier assigned to deliver the mail on the route where Garlow’s home is located. After the postal carrier told Garlow that he did not have the parcels, Garlow went to the Lehigh Acres Post Office and walked around the building in search of the packages.
On October 1, 2021, special agents from USPS OIG went to Garlow’s home with the five suspicious parcels. Garlow agreed to speak with the agents and admitted that he went to the post office to find out why the parcels had not been delivered. Garlow consented to the search of the parcels, which contained pills. When asked what the pills were, Garlow said that he believed that the pills were tramadol. Garlow told the agents that he had received a text message from an unknown number asking him if he wanted to make more money. Garlow admitted that he eventually replied to the text message because he needed money to pay his mortgage and other bills. Garlow said that he started communicating with an individual about four months prior and that this individual had instructed him to open a P.O. Box at the post office and a box at a UPS Store. Garlow followed these instructions and provided his home address and the addresses of the two boxes to the individual. Garlow later admitted to receiving parcels containing what the individual said was tramadol, Percocet, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and another pill for sleep. Upon receiving the packages, Garlow counted and separated the pills into baggies, printed out shipping labels, and mailed out the pills using a spreadsheet detailing the names and addresses that had been provided by the individual. Garlow admitted to receiving 10 to 15 parcels.
During the interview, Garlow provided 8 crates full of pills and 19 USPS Priority Mail envelopes to the agents. Garlow said he was paid based on the number of pills being shipped, and that he had mailed out more than 200 parcels or envelopes. Garlow said that he knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he needed to make money.
A subsequent forensic laboratory analysis of the pills revealed that a majority of the pills were fentanyl. Further, the lab analysis found that some of the pills’ physical characteristics, including shape, color, and manufacturer’s markings indicated that the tablets should have been a controlled substance such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or oxycodone hydrochloride manufactured by a specific company, but were instead analyzed and found to be fentanyl. The pills were in excess of 11 kilograms of fentanyl.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Yolande G. Viacava.