Two South King County men and a former U.S. Navy sailor have been indicted for conspiracy and various drug distribution and firearms charges in connection with their alleged trafficking in counterfeit pills laced with deadly fentanyl, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran on Aug. 18.
Chase Friedrich, 28, was arrested April 21 at his apartment in Des Moines. His drug supplier, 28-year-old Raoul V. Normandia Jr., was arrested April 24 near his residence in Federal Way.
Ivan Armenta, 20, was separated from the Navy and taken into federal custody on Aug. 7.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Friedrich allegedly sold counterfeit Percocet pills to Armenta, who then provided the pills to another sailor who died of a drug overdose.
The pills were tainted with deadly fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid pain reliever that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine and can cause fatal overdoses.
On April 18, the investigation began when a Navy sailor was found dead in his workspace aboard a ship at the Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton. Two counterfeit pills, laced with fentanyl, were found in his pocket.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) were able to identify Armenta as the sailor who provided the initial pills to the victim and identified Friedrich as the alleged supplier, the Department of Justice said.
A search of Friedrich’s apartment in April revealed cocaine, a handgun, and a bag of about 100 counterfeit pills.
Investigators were able to trace the pills and cocaine back to Normandia. When he was arrested a few blocks from his Federal Way home in April, law enforcement found cocaine in his vehicle. During a court‑authorized search of Normandia’s residence, officers found firearms, ammunition, body armor, narcotics and various signs of the drug trade, including scales, baggies, heat sealers, Moneygram receipts and 20 cell phones, according to the Department of Justice.
Normandia and Friedrich are charged with conspiracy. Normandia is charged with possession of MDMA and cocaine with intent to distribute and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Friedrich and Armenta are each charged with distribution of fentanyl. Friedrich is also charged with possession of cocaine and fentanyl with intent to distribute, and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
All three defendants face a statutory maximum term of up to twenty years in prison, the Department of Justice said. The possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime calls for an additional consecutive prison term of five years.
The case is being investigated by NCIS and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office as a part of the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNET) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lyndsie Schmalz.