Oregon Woman Sentenced for Selling Elephant Tranquilizer in Counterfeit Pill That Led to Overdose Death 


A woman who sold the extremely potent drug carfentanil to a man who died of an overdose in Portland in 2018 was sentenced Wednesday to three months of home detention.

Carfentanil is an opioid typically used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants and other large mammals. It’s about 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. It was never meant to be consumed by humans. A couple of milligrams, equal to a pinch of salt, is used to sedate elephants.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Western region laboratory hasn’t reported seeing much carfentanil, only a handful of instances in the last five years, according to an agency spokesperson.

Dameon L. Andrews, 35, of Gresham, died on June 26, 2018, in North Portland after taking a pill he thought contained oxycodone, according to Portland police.

Their investigation of his death led to the prosecution of Alexandria R. Hill, who made the hand-to-hand sale, and then to her drug supplier, Dontae L. Hunt, in federal court.

Police traced the deadly pill to Hill through the text messages on Andrews’ cellphone. Investigators then placed an order for more pills via text message from Andrews’ cellphone to Hill, according to court records.

Hill sold five counterfeit oxycodone pills to a police informant for $200 and was immediately arrested. She was found with another 38 counterfeit pills that were lab tested and contained carfentanil, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Sax.

Hill, 32, cooperated with police and led them to the man who supplied her with the pills, Hunt. She testified against Hunt during a federal trial last fall. A jury convicted Hunt, 41, of possession with intent to distribute carfentanil and conspiracy to distribute the drug. Prosecutors said he was selling counterfeit oxycodone pills containing carfentanil in and around Portland and his drug trafficking was tied to the June 2018 overdose death.

Hill testified that Hunt sold her 20 to 40 light blue pills stamped with an “M8″ on one side at least six to eight times. She said she believed the pills were counterfeit oxycodone. She said Hunt was her only supplier of the pills in 2018.

When police went to arrest Hunt at his home on Northeast Dekum Street, they found he had tried to destroy some of his pills by flushing them down the toilet, according to court records. They also seized other counterfeit blue pills concealed in a jar of baby ointment in the home, according to court records.

On his phone, police recovered various text messages from some of his alleged drug customers. Among the texts to Hunt were: “Tryna get 40,” “Got any 8′s on deck,” referring to counterfeit 30 milligram oxycodone pills stamped with an “E8″ on them, and one that read, “U got better ones last batch they said was weak,” according to Sax.

While waiting for Hunt’s trial, Hill was released from custody on pretrial supervision and was allowed to live in Texas. When she was subpoenaed to appear as a witness at Hunt’s trial in Portland last fall, she didn’t respond. A warrant was issued for her arrest. Officers found her in Fort Worth, but she turned and ran, according to Sax. She was arrested and returned to Portland by the U.S. Marshals Service to testify against Hunt at his trial in October.

Since shortly after Hunt’s trial, Hill has been living with a cousin in Oregon and working and attending substance abuse treatment, said her lawyer, Noel Grefenson.

“You guys intervened in my life when I needed it the most,” Hill told U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman in court Wednesday.

Mosman accepted the government’s recommendation and placed Hill on home confinement for three months, followed by three years of supervised release.

She will be able to leave her cousin’s home for work, treatment, church and meetings with her federal probation officer.

While awaiting trial at the federal prison in Sheridan, Hunt obtained drugs, designer sneakers and a cellphone from a federal corrections officer who introduced the contraband into the prison. Charges of bribery and smuggling contraband in that case are still pending against Hunt.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on distribution of carfentanil, money laundering and being a felon in possession of a firearm convictions on Feb. 10. The former prison guard is set to be sentenced later this year for accepting a bribe as a public official.