Johnston man sentenced to ten years in prison for trafficking thousands of fentanyl pills


Date: May 28, 2024


Providence, RI — The leader of a fentanyl trafficking conspiracy that distributed and possessed enough fentanyl to create more than two million potentially lethal doses of the drugs has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Jonathan King of Johnston, who previously admitted to a federal judge that he arranged for the sale and delivery of thousands of fentanyl-laced pills, some of which were delivered at his direction by family members, including his father, was convicted in U.S. District Court on June 7, 2022, of conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and distribution of 400 grams or more of fentanyl. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 120 months of incarceration to be followed by five years of federal supervised release.

“The defendant’s drug distribution network put countless Rhode Island lives at risk for his own selfish gain,” remarked U.S. Attorney Cunha. “This prosecution, and today’s decade-long sentence should make one thing clear: in a time when overdose rates in our state remain at crisis levels, and every city and town in Rhode Island has seen opioid overdose deaths, we are determined to use every federal law enforcement tool at our disposal to stop combat significant opioid traffickers.”

“The state of Rhode Island is faced with a fentanyl crisis unlike ever before as deaths continue to soar,” said Acting DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen P. Belleau, New England Field Division. “Those responsible for distributing lethal drugs like fentanyl disguised in pills to the citizens of Rhode Island need to be held accountable for their actions. Today’s sentence holds Mr. King accountable for his crimes and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to put other callous distributers like him behind bars. Make no mistake, DEA will aggressively pursue Drug Trafficking Organizations who are distributing this poison in order to profit and destroy people’s lives.”

At today’s sentencing hearing, King was ordered to forfeit proceeds derived from his drug trafficking activities to include a Jaguar XF and $6,750 in cash seized at the time of his arrest on July 20, 2021.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Michael Seaman, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.

The matter was investigated by the Rhode Island Drug Task Force, comprised of personnel from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; DEA; Rhode Island State Police; Cranston Police Department; Middletown Police Department; Newport Police Department; Pawtucket Police Department; Providence Police Department; Warwick Police Department; Woonsocket Police Department; and Amtrak Police.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.