Three of the four defendants indicted on charges tied to the distribution of thousands of fentanyl pills in the Inland Northwest and elsewhere have pleaded guilty and face two decades in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice on Tuesday accepted guilty pleas from Hunter O’Mealy, 19, and Caleb Carr, 23. Federal investigators charged the two, along with Jamie Bellovich and Matthew “Cheesy” Gudino-Pena, as members of a group calling themselves the “Fetty Brothers” who trafficked the deadly synthetic opioid from across the Mexican border through California and Oregon to Washington, where the pills were sold and caused at least one overdose death and a shooting death in Coeur d’Alene.
Bellovich pleaded guilty to the same charge of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl last week. Gudino-Pena appeared briefly in court Tuesday morning but asked for more time to review the plea agreement and to clarify whether he would be prosecuted in Arizona, where authorities arrested the group in October.
Both O’Mealy and Carr, appearing in yellow Spokane County jail jumpsuits, told Rice they had worked with others to bring the drugs into Eastern Washington. Their supply has been tied to the overdose death of a high school freshman in Coeur d’Alene. A dealer, Matthew Holmberg, using SnapChat to sell the drugs supplied by the group has admitted to the shooting death of Gabriel Casper in May 2021 in Coeur d’Alene during a drug deal.
“I did it,” Carr told Rice, before clarifying, “I worked with other people.”
Casper’s shooting death prompted federal investigators to seek out the supplier of the fentanyl, a drug that killed 1,134 Washingtonians last year, according to a recent report by the Washington Department of Health. Investigators with the U.S. Postal Service and Drug Enforcement Administration tied the drugs to a residence in Tacoma, where they found “thousands of blue counterfeit oxycodone hydrochloride pills, laced with fentanyl,” according to court records.
The occupant of that home began working with federal investigators, telling them O’Mealy and Carr were working to distribute several controlled substances, including fentanyl and cocaine, and that Bellovich drove them.
The DEA stopped a car O’Mealy was driving near Chehalis in August on a tip provided by the informant. They seized 40,000 pills laced with the drug and $16,300 in cash, according to court records. Later that month, the informant contacted Carr to meet him at an unnamed restaurant in downtown Spokane to buy 2,000 pills in a deal that was observed by DEA agents. Bellovich was seen driving Carr.
At the meeting, Carr gave the informant five smartphones and another prepaid cellphone, believing the informant could make the phones “invisible to law enforcement.” Instead, the informant turned the phones over to the DEA. Agents found evidence of drug deliveries in the text messages and photos on the phones, according to court records.
Carr later texted the informant about a shooting in Lakewood, Washington, involving O’Mealy and Gudino-Pena. The shooting left another man, whom O’Mealy and Gudino-Pena believed to be informing on them to police, paralyzed from the waist down, according to court records.
Bellovich was arrested following a traffic stop in late September near Chehalis. Authorities found 6,000 suspected fentanyl pills among other drugs in the car.
Authorities tracked the three men to Arizona in October. Authorities believe they attempted to mask their location by changing settings on their cellphones and asked the informant to prepare new identities for them. Instead, the informant provided phone numbers and messages to police, who eventually apprehended all three men in Tucson.
At the residence where they were staying, authorities found a fully automatic pistol, an AK-47 rifle, ammunition and a suppressor, as well as $20,000 in cash and marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms, LSD and illicit opioid pills, according to court records.
Richard Barker, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern Washington district, told Rice that his office had obtained written confirmation from authorities in Arizona, Western Washington and Idaho indicating they would not be filing additional charges against the men.
The agreement with O’Mealy calls for a sentence between 14 and 20 years in federal prison. Carr’s sentencing range is 12 to 20 years. Bellovich’s plea agreement does not call for a specific term of imprisonment.
In addition to drugs and firearms, the government also asked to seize any funds in accounts held with the Robinhood Financial company.
Bellovich is scheduled to be sentenced in August. O’Mealy and Carr are scheduled for sentencing in September. Gudino-Pena is scheduled to appear for a change of plea hearing before Rice on June 8.