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The 'prolific darknet narcotics vendor' was connected to a deadly 2017 overdose in Wisconsin

Lake Oswego resident Joseph Richard Caruso was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison, as well as three years of supervised release, Thursday after pleading guilty in April to one count of distributing a controlled substance resulting in death.

In a press release Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon referred to Caruso as "a prolific darknet narcotics vendor" who dealt fentanyl acquired from China. Fentanyl from Caruso was linked to a fatal overdose in Wisconsin in 2017.

"This sentence is a significant step forward in eliminating deadly drugs from our community," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle, in the press release. "Fentanyl is an extremely deadly substance. Blatant disregard for the safety of those who could have come into contact with it will not be tolerated. This case is a testament to the hard work HSI, and our law enforcement partners, do every day to combat these drugs from making it to our streets."

According to the press release, Caruso was arrested in November 2017 after a U.S. Postal Inspection Service worker found a suspicious package addressed to Caruso at the U.S. Postal Service Portland Air Cargo Center. The Portland Police Bureau's Drugs and Vice Division examined the heat-sealed package and found a Ziploc bag containing a powdery substance; testing at the Oregon State Police Laboratory confirmed the substance was cyclopropylfentanyl, which is categorized as a "power opioid" and is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Investigators replaced the substance with an "inert powder" that had a similar appearance, and delivered the package to Caruso's Lake Oswego home Nov. 21, 2017. When Caruso went to retrieve the package at his apartment postal box, he was arrested by Homeland Security agents and other task force officers.

"A highly-coordinated effort by four law enforcement agencies led to Mr. Caruso's arrest less than two days after his most recent inbound fentanyl package was discovered. It's this sort of nimble and decisive law enforcement work that's required to keep synthetic opioids off of our streets and prevent additional overdoses," said Billy J. Williams, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, in the press release. "I applaud the tremendous work of everyone involved in this case."

Caruso pleaded guilty this past April, and along with his jail sentence he was ordered to forfeit more than $764,000 and a 2013 Audi A4 sedan.


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