Member of drug ring that distributed thousands of fentanyl pills in Whatcom Co. sentenced

One of six people indicted for their role in a drug trafficking ring that distributed thousands of fentanyl pills across Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation was sentenced to federal prison last week.

Ahbdurman Ahmed, 33, of Seattle, was sentenced to six years in prison Jan. 5 in the Western District of Washington in U.S. District Court. Ahmed pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to two counts of possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. The court dismissed one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl as part of a plea agreement.

Ahmed is one of six people who were federally indicted by a grand jury in April for drug trafficking and weapons charges. Three of the six people are from Bellingham, according to federal court records.

At Ahmed’s sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones said it was critical that he protect the public.

“I can’t imagine how you would feel if someone sold fentanyl to your children,” Jones said, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

As part of Ahmed’s sentencing, the court made recommendations to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons that Ahmed be incarcerated at a federal correctional institution in Yazoo City, Mississippi. It was also recommended that Ahmed participate in a residential drug abuse program, federal court documents show.

“This defendant sold thousands of fentanyl pills in Whatcom County, pills that nearly killed him in an overdose. Even after that brush with death, he continued to sell — putting others at risk. Drug suppliers must be held accountable for their conduct, whether driven by addiction or by greed — in this case it appears it was both,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said in a prepared DOJ statement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hobbs, who prosecuted the case, asked the court to sentence Ahmed to seven years in prison. Hobbs wrote to the court that Ahmed was involved in an ongoing conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in Whatcom County, and that many of the drugs ended up on the Lummi reservation.

The Lummi Nation has been hit particularly hard by fentanyl, and has taken numerous steps to address the crisis.

“The Court is certainly aware of the dangers that these drugs — particularly fentanyl — pose to those who use them. Ahmed himself, as a drug user who has overdosed on fentanyl, was obviously aware of the risk of death or injury this drug presents. Ultimately Ahmed — for whatever reason — was willing to personally profit from the distribution of an addictive and often deadly controlled substance,” Hobbs wrote, the DOJ press release states.

Ahmed was one of six people who were part of a fentanyl distribution organization that was actively moving fentanyl from the Seattle area to redistributors in Whatcom County. The drug trafficking ring had been under investigation since late 2022, according to previous DOJ press releases and reporting in The Bellingham Herald.

Law enforcement officers observed various drug transactions and intercepted the drug loads. On Dec. 30, 2022, law enforcement officers were called to a convenience store in Ferndale, where Ahmed and another person had overdosed on fentanyl. Both people had to be revived and were taken to a hospital.

Ten days later, Ahmed was seen trafficking fentanyl pills, the DOJ press release states.

In mid-January 2023, law enforcement seized bags filled with 1,000 fentanyl pills from two of Ahmed’s customers.

Less than two months later in March, law enforcement seized 3,000 fentanyl pills from Ahmed himself. At the time of the drug seizure, a Glock handgun with an extended magazine was found in the car Ahmed was driving, according to the press release. Ahmed was prohibited from possessing firearms due to prior criminal convictions.

A Glock handgun with an extended magazine was found in a car with a 33-year-old Seattle man who was one of six people federally indicted as part of a drug trafficking ring distributing thousands of fentanyl pills across Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation. U.S. Department of Justice/Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald
A Glock handgun with an extended magazine was found in a car with a 33-year-old Seattle man who was one of six people federally indicted as part of a drug trafficking ring distributing thousands of fentanyl pills across Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation. U.S. Department of Justice/Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

According to DOJ press releases and federal court records, the five others indicted as part of the fentanyl trafficking ring are:

Matthew Anderson, 35, of Bellingham. Anderson is charged with two counts of possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. His jury trial is tentatively scheduled for March.

Daniel John Faix, 41, of Bellingham. Faix pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of firearms and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. His sentencing is scheduled for March 29.

Natasha Parkhill, 38, of Bellingham. Parkhill pleaded not guilty Nov. 30 to one count each of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. Parkhill remains detained pending trial at an unspecified future date.

Mohamed Abdirisak Mohamed, 35, of Seattle. Mohamed is charged with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Mohamed’s trial is scheduled for March.

Robel Sisay Gebremedhin, also known as Robel Sisay Gebremedhui, 41, of Burien, is charged with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He is currently being sought by law enforcement.

The investigation into the fentanyl distribution ring was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Whatcom County Drug and Gang Task Force. Assistance was provided by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

“The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is committed and will continue locating dangerous drug traffickers that are poisoning our communities with potentially deadly substances,” Whatcom County Sheriff Donnell “Tank” Tanksley said in a prepared statement. “Losing one community member to an overdose, fatal or otherwise, is one community member too many — we are all family. We will continue to work with our community partners to guide those affected by addition to needed resources.”