A California man apprehended in Thailand denied federal allegations Wednesday that he shipped 100,000 fentanyl pills to Mitchell, Chamberlain and Sioux Falls.
Damon Jobin, 34, of Huntington Beach, California, was indicted on Oct. 23 on charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of a fentanyl analogue and money laundering. He is believed to have worked with others to distribute as many as 2.6 million pills worldwide.
Jobin and those he conspired with allegedly used the dark web in 2017 to distribute about 100,000 pills containing fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue to people in Mitchell, Chamberlain and Sioux Falls. Of those, 20,000 pills were seized by South Dakota law enforcement and tested positive for cyclopropyl fentanyl. Jobin is also charged with laundering more than $130,000 converted from Bitcoin he received from drug sales.
Investigators reportedly found that in total, Jobin had sent more than 2.6 million fentanyl or fentanyl analogue pills in about 200 packages to locations in 32 states. Jobin's records allegedly indicate that the pills' total weight was more than 258 kg, about 2.2 times as much as the largest physical seizure of fentanyl anywhere to date.
Jobin was arrested in California on Nov. 29 and was released on a $25,000 appearance bond after appearing before a judge for the Central District of California. Jobin allegedly fled the U.S. early this year and was apprehended in Thailand on a federal arrest warrant.
Thai police took Jobin into custody on June 7, and U.S. marshals from the District of South Dakota transported him to the Seattle, where he was formally arrested and detained. He was then transported to South Dakota, where he pleaded not guilty Tuesday before Judge Veronica L. Duffy in Sioux Falls. He remains in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Jobin's charges carry a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of a life sentence and a $10 million fine.
The Chamberlain Police Department and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation have assisted in the investigation, as have the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Western Cyber Crimes Unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of State and the Costa Mesa Police Department.
Fentanyl, which is up to 50 times stronger than heroin, is estimated to be potent enough that 1 kg could produce up to a million fatal doses.