An Iraqi citizen who came to the United States in 2012 after serving as an interpreter for the Department of Defense has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for selling fake pills laced with fentanyl.
The investigation into Alaa Mohammed Allawi’s pill mill started in 2015 when someone tipped off UTSA police about a surge in prescription drugs on campus. Allawi was subsequently identified as the manufacturer and supplier. U.S. Attorney John Bash says Allawi and his organization distributed hundreds of thousands of fentanyl-laced pills across the United States, and one of those pills killed 20-year-old Marine Corporal Mark Mambulao.
That’s when the Naval Criminal Investigative Service got involved in the investigation.
“It’s especially disheartening when individuals who helped distribute these pills were fellow Marines. “Narcotics are the number one funding mechanism for terrorism and instead of defending the United States against enemies, foreign and domestic, those individuals dealing in this fentanyl death actually weakened the readiness of our military and affected our national security,” said NCIS Special Agent in Charge Charles Humenansky from the Carolinas Field Office.
When asked if there was any evidence that the money made from the sale of the fentanyl-laced pills was sent to terrorist groups, Bash answered ,”no.”
U.S. District Judge David Ezra Wednesday entered a $14.3 million money judgment against Allawi based on his online dark net sales profit. He also ordered Allawi to forfeit to the government his San Antonio home, five firearms, including an AR-style rifle, about $28,000 cash, more than $21,000 in crypto currency, an assortment of jewelry, four high-end vehicles and all rights to his DRNK Coffee + Tea franchise in California.
“He’s selling deadly stuff to people in the grips of addiction to make money. I mean, that is not that many steps removed from murder-for-hire,” said Bash.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy pointed out the sophistication and callousness with which Allawi conducted his illegal drug activities.
“From his use of the dark web, to his clandestine manufacturing of the counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, to his drug sales targeting college students, Allawi operated with little concern for the people in our communities,” said Glaspy.
Allawi will be deported to Iraq upon completion of his 30-year sentence.
“It’s kind of infuriating when we welcome somebody here partly due to their service to our forces, and then they turn around and engage in a money-making scheme to kill people,” said Bash.
He said officials need to do a better job of educating young people about the dangers of buying illegal prescription drugs.
“You do not know if the potency in the pill is what you’re expecting based on the normal version of that pill. You don’t know if it’s laced with something,” said Bash. “This is something that’s gonna get you killed.”