A lengthy Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) probe led to the arrest of a drug dealer suspected of selling a fatal dose of fentanyl to a US Navy Sailor.
According to the federal complaint, the NCIS investigation resulted in the arrest of Marcell Travon Robinson III from Riverside County.
Robinson faces charges he knowingly conspired to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl. He’s also suspected of being the source that provided fentanyl to a sailor who died in San Diego County in August of 2017.
According to documents, undercover agents met Robinson at locations in Riverside and San Diego counties beginning shortly after the death of the sailor in 2017.
The undercover agents purchased more than a thousand illegally-manufactured pills for thousands of dollars in a variety of containers. Some looked like store-bought potato chip bags, according to NCIS documents.
Former NCIS Supervisory Agent Ed Jones spent 14 years in the agency. He says part of the role of NCIS is to protect members of the military.
“We're going to try our best to neutralize those threats, in this case identifying drug trafficking organizations, to take them out before they harm our sailors and our Marines.”
According to documents, Robinson was arrested late last week but NCIS told NBC 7 the investigation is ongoing. For that reason, Jones says he has to be careful about what he says because NCIS are putting their lives at risk to catch people dealing the dangerous drug.
“We have to prevent it from happening again,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in San Diego told NBC 7 that fentanyl is a growing problem locally because it is cheaper to produce than heroin.
The chemicals are purchased in China and sent to Mexico where traffickers manufacture illegal pills resembling painkillers. But the fake pills can have varying doses of fentanyl and even a small amount of it can be lethal.