An Anne Arundel County, Maryland, man was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday of operating a regional drug operation so big that it raked in millions of dollars.
Paul Alexander, 47, of Hanover, was found guilty of trafficking the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Federal prosecutors said that the 10 kilograms Alexander — who also went by David Paul Hayes and Shorty — had in his possession were enough to kill 5 million people.
“Paul Alexander was a wholesaler who was responsible for bringing large quantities of fentanyl into the Baltimore region,” said Jonathan Lenzner, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Alexander distributed the drug from April 2018 to January 2019, a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release said.
“The defendant was found to be in possession of about $4 million in cash, which represents drug proceeds,” Lenzner said.
During a search on Jan. 2, law enforcement said they recovered a loaded pistol with an extended magazine that had 24 rounds of ammunition, and bags filled with over $4 million in cash, jewelry and narcotics distribution paraphernalia.
Following a five-day trial, Alexander was convicted on five charges, including conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are the most common drugs involved in drug overdoses in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Fentanyl was involved in 59.8% of the opioid-related deaths in 2017, compared to 14.3% in 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said.
“More people die of opioid overdoses than murder in Maryland, while drug dealers spend their profits on luxury cars and jewelry,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur in a statement. “Fentanyl dealers, like Paul Alexander, sell death and despair, and dealing in fentanyl increases their odds of federal prosecution.”
Alexander faces multiple life sentences for the drug-related convictions and 10 years for possession of a firearm by a felon. He is scheduled for sentencing in January 2020.