Benjamin Ross, 28, of Youngstown, was sentenced this month for his role in a scheme to distribute fentanyl pills, which were pressed, colored and stamped to look like 30-milligram oxycodone hydrochloride pills.

Judge John R. Adams sentenced Ross to 12 years (144 months) of incarceration, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. 

According to the indictment and other court records, on May 15, 2019, Ross knowingly and intentionally possessed with the intent to distribute 117.70 grams of fentanyl.

Between March 19 and May 15, 2019, Ross was in contact with an individual via a mobile messaging platform. These communications revealed that Ross sought to purchase fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone. During one such communication, Ross complained that the blue color of the pills he had just received did not match the standard oxycodone color and could possibly alert his customers to the fact that the pills were not legitimate oxycodone pills.

Ross provided an address to the individual so that the individual could mail the shipment via the U.S. Postal Service. Just prior to May 15, the individual provided Ross with the tracking number so that Ross would know when to pick up the shipment. The shipment was delivered to the address Ross provided on May 15.

Immediately after Ross picked up the shipment, the Ohio State Highway Patrol conducted a traffic stop. During that traffic stop, a police canine alerted to the odor of narcotics inside the car. Troopers found a bag of round, light-blue pills, which were marked “M” and “30” as if they were 30 milligram oxycodone pills. A laboratory test confirmed the 117.7 grams of pills actually contained fentanyl.

At the time of his arrest, Ross was under supervision after serving 57 months for a prior federal firearms conviction. Ross was released from custody and began supervision on March 22, 2019. 

Judge Adams found this drug trafficking conviction was a violation of the terms of Ross’ supervised release. Ross was sentenced to 120 months for trafficking fentanyl followed by a consecutive sentence of 24 months for violating his supervised release.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Burke and Danielle Angeli Asher following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, The Ohio State Highway Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.