By: Sydney Isenberg
DENVER (KMGH) — A Grand Junction man was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison for distributing deadly fentanyl-laced pills, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced.
Christopher Huggett, 30, began selling counterfeit pills that appeared to be oxycodone in 2017, according to the plea agreement. The pills contained fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Huggett obtained the pills from and sold them alongside his source, Bruce Holder. Despite learning from Holder that several people overdosed and some people died after using the pills, Huggett continued distributing the pills throughout Western Colorado, the plea agreement states.
According to the plea agreement, Huggett sold several pills to Zacharia Green on Dec. 26, 2017. Green then sold those pills to the victim, identified as J.E. in court documents.
On or around Dec. 28, 2017, J.E. used a portion of one of the pills, lost consciousness and died, according to the plea agreement. That same day, Green also used a portion of one of the pills, lost consciousness and stopped breathing, court documents state. He was found by a co-worker, who called first responders. Emergency medical personnel administered naloxone and saved his life.
Less than two months after the two overdose incidents, Huggett and Holder went to Mexico to obtain and import additional fentanyl pills, according to the plea agreement. Court documents state Huggett saw Holder give the pill supplier a large wad of cash. The two returned to Grand Junction with several thousand fentanyl pills, which were concealed in the dash of Holder’s vehicle.
After Huggett was arrested and detained, he solicited the murder of a witness, the plea agreement states. He offered two inmates $5,000 and a vehicle in order to have Green killed. He told one of the inmates where they could find Green, the plea agreement continues.
Agents confronted Huggett, and he confessed that he had asked inmates to murder Green. However, he told authorities that he did not actually intend for that to happen, according to the plea agreement. He told the agents that he was presenting a front to keep up appearances in jail and only spoke to inmates he thought had no possibility of release.
“Fentanyl is deadly and it’s pervasive. Dealers distributing fentanyl have our full attention,” said United States Attorney Cole Finegan. “I urge Coloradans to be on guard. Fentanyl is being disguised in many different drugs – and it can kill you. Please do not take a drug unless you get it from a pharmacist.”
Huggett was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Holder was convicted of distributing fentanyl resulting in death on April 19, 2021. His sentencing is scheduled for May 4.
Green was sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in J.E.’s death.
This story was originally published March 9, 2022, by KMGH in Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.