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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

OxyContin ringleader gets 50-year prison sentence

The ringleader of an illicit painkiller operation that brought thousands of OxyContin pills to the streets of Spokane from California will spend the next 50 years in federal prison. Arvin T. Carmen, 39, was sentenced last week in Spokane following a three-week jury trial concluded in November. Carmen and three others - Donta L. Blackmon, Brandon L. Chavez, Karlynn R. Tones - were all found guilty of multiple crimes tied to the distribution and sale of the prescription opiate that has been targeted by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent abuse and illicit trafficking. Federal, state and local investigators began targeting Carmen and other members of a Los Angeles street gang in 2011, eventually obtaining controversial wiretaps that were challenged, but allowed, at trial. Investigators learned that gang members were recruiting women to fly pills bought in California to Spokane, where they were sold on the street at a premium. An indictment handed down by a grand jury in January 2013 named 62 co-conspirators, including Sally Guthrie, owner of multiple Flamin’ Joes hot wing restaurants in Spokane. Many of those indicted have pleaded guilty to lesser crimes. In a statement announcing Carmen’s sentence, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Mike Ormsby said his office remained committed to prosecuting cases of prescription drug trafficking. “The prescription drug abuse problem in Spokane and surrounding areas is well documented, and while this one conviction and sentencing won’t change those issues overnight, it demonstrates my office’s continual commitment to fight this problem with every resource at our disposal,” he said. In addition to the prison sentence, Carmen was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. He will be on probation for the rest of his life.