Hopkins Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Distributing Fentanyl through USPS that Caused Eleven Overdose Deaths
ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Hopkins man has been sentenced to life in prison for distributing controlled substances, including fentanyl, which resulted in the deaths of eleven people and caused serious bodily injury to four people, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
“Eleven lives lost. Families, friends, and communities forever changed by the devastation brought on by Aaron Broussard’s deadly fentanyl. Although the trauma felt by the victims can never be undone and the true cost can never be calculated, Mr. Broussard will now spend the remainder of his life behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
“Let today’s sentencing serve as a wakeup call to the drug traffickers pushing fentanyl in and around our communities,” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said. “A mere two milligrams of fentanyl, equivalent in size to a few grains of salt, is enough to potentially kill a person. The threat of fentanyl is real, and the traffickers pushing this deadly substance will be held accountable for the lives they’ve taken, the families they’ve hurt and the communities they’ve devastated.”
“Today’s sentencing of Aaron Broussard sends a clear message in how critical a role the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and its law enforcement partners play in protecting American consumers from illegal narcotics being shipped via the U.S. Mail. U.S. Postal Inspectors are committed to continuing our work to dismantle drug trafficking operations to keep USPS customers and employees safe from greedy drug traffickers who favor profit over human lives,” stated Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonça of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Denver Division.”
According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2014 through December 6, 2016, Aaron Rhy Broussard, 31, obtained controlled substances, including fentanyl, from China-based drug suppliers. Broussard conspired with his China-based suppliers to smuggle what would prove to be deadly drugs into the country. Broussard marketed these drugs for sale on his website, PlantFoodUSA.net, under the guise of selling plant food. He then used the United States mail and a United States Postal Service “Click-N-Ship” account to send out packages of deadly drugs around the country.
On March 12, 2016, Broussard placed a drug order for 100 grams of 4-FA, a controlled substance analogue, which was shipped from China. The package actually contained 100 grams of 99% pure fentanyl. Although Broussard had experienced a similar mix-up in August 2015 and was repeatedly told to test his drugs, he did not do so. Between March 31 and April 27, 2016, Broussard sent his branded packages containing fentanyl to more than a dozen customers throughout the United States. The customers had ordered and were expecting to receive an amphetamine analogue, similar to Adderall. They were not opiate users and had no tolerance for the deadly fentanyl Broussard sent them. After ingesting the fentanyl, believing it was Adderall, eleven of the customers died from a fentanyl overdose, and at least four customers suffered serious bodily injury.
Broussard continued distributing his deadly packages despite hearing about adverse reactions. Even after he learned that several customers had been hospitalized and nearly died, Broussard never warned his customers not to take the deadly drugs. Broussard did reach out to his suppliers in China to request a discount on his next drug delivery.
On March 31, 2022, following a 10-day jury trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, Broussard was convicted on 17 counts, including conspiracy, importation of fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury, and possession with intent to distribute controlled substance analogues.
During the sentencing hearing, Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lauded the bravery shown by victims and their families in providing their victim impact statements to the Court. In imposing the life sentence, Judge Nelson told Broussard, “Your disregard for human life is terrifying.”
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the University of Minnesota Police Department, the Peoria Heights (Illinois) Police Department, the Dallas (Texas) Police Department, the Broome County (New York) Sheriff’s Office, the Volusia County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office, the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Office, Garrard County (Kentucky) Sheriff’s Office, Hazel Green (Wisconsin) Police Department, and the Atlanta (Georgia) Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas M. Hollenhorst and Melinda A. Williams prosecuted the case.