INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after a search of his storage unit uncovered enough fentanyl to kill more than 29,000 people.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana said Julius Johnson was sentenced to ten years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl, carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Johnson was arrested in June 2019 after officers went to search his storage unit as part of a drug trafficking investigation. When they arrived at the storage building, they found Johnson leaving the facility office. They arrested him immediately.
A court document filed in the case said officers searched Johnson, finding $5,636 and multiple cell phones. Inside the storage unit, officers located a vehicle containing a firearm.
While doing a more detailed search, the document says an officer found a bag containing 59.2 grams of fentanyl in Johnson’s underpants. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, depending on a person’s body size, tolerance, and past usage.
Johnson had previously been convicted for carrying a handgun without a license, dealing in cocaine, and possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana says these prior felony convictions prohibit Johnson from possessing a firearm.
Before Johnson was sentenced, his defense and the government had an opportunity to try to influence the decision. His defense said Johnson’s criminal history comes from a family history of drug use.
In the defense’s sentencing memorandum, they said Johnson knew when he was five years old that he wanted to go into the family business, which was selling drugs.
“He witnessed cocaine being cut on his kitchen table, and marijuana being weighed and packaged as a small child. Family members who sold drugs wore fur coats and drove Mercedes-Benz. He wanted to be like them,” the memorandum read.
The defense said Johnson accepts responsibility for his actions, begging for leniency in sentencing.
The government’s sentencing memorandum details Johnson’s lengthy criminal history and the danger of what he was doing.
Since 1996, the sentencing memorandum said Johnson accrued five convictions, four of which were felonies. The first conviction happened after Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery after the victim was shot in the back and approximately $700 was stolen.
While on probation, the memorandum said Johnson continued to commit crimes. The government said his actions show his disregard for the law.
“Johnson’s prior terms of imprisonment, which range from a few days in jail to about a decade of imprisonment, have failed to deter him from continuing to commit crimes,” the memorandum read. “Not only that, but his criminal behavior remains unchanged, with one exception; instead of dealing cocaine with a firearm, he now is dealing large quantities of lethal fentanyl with a gun.”
The government also noted that fentanyl continues to contribute to a high number of overdose deaths in Indiana and Indianapolis has been plagued by increasing firearm-related crimes over the past years.
As part of the sentence, Johnson was ordered to be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for four years following his release from federal prison.