Charges: Fentanyl ring hid drugs in stuffed animals, distributed around state

Six people have been charged in connection with a fentanyl distribution ring that prosecutors say operated by hiding drugs in stuffed animals.

Cornell Montez Chandler, Jr., 24; Robiel Lee Williams, 23; Quijuan Hosea Bankhead, 30; Stardasha Christina Davenport-Mounger, 24; Fo’Tre Devine White, 26; and Shardai Rayshell Allen, 24, are all charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. Court documents show White is also charged with one count of possession of a firearm as a felon and one count of possession of a machine gun.

A press release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger says the six conspired to distribute fentanyl in Minnesota by traveling to Phoenix to get the pills and hiding them inside stuffed animals before mailing them to addresses in the Twin Cities.

The pills were mailed to addresses in Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties, where an investigation uncovered six packages containing over 30,000 grams of fentanyl pills, officials say.

The Washington County Drug Task Force was one of several agencies that worked on the investigation and says a total of 280,000 fentanyl pills were seized — the largest fentanyl pill bust in state history. The pills amounted to 66 pounds and have an estimated value of over $2.2 million.

“We continue to see the devastating impacts of fentanyl in our communities,” said Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry. “With this seizure, we know that hundreds, if not thousands of lives have been saved.”

It’s not the first time federal prosecutors have charged people in connection to an operation that allegedly brought fentanyl from Arizona to Minnesota.

Back in November, Luger’s office charged three others with getting fentanyl pills in Phoenix in 2020 and bringing them to the Twin Cities to sell.

“In my time as a prosecutor, I can state without question that fentanyl is the most dangerous drug our community has ever faced,” Luger said in November.