2017-10-11 / Front Page

Lapeer man charged with possession of ‘nightmare’ drug

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com


Ryan R. Whitman Ryan R. Whitman LAPEER — A 29-year-old Lapeer man faces up to life in prison if convicted on a controlled substance charge related to a bottle police allegedly found in his possession and believed to have contained the deadly drug carfentanil.

Ryan R. Whitman was arraigned Monday after being charged with operating while intoxicated or impaired (controlled substance). Whitman also was charged with possession of a controlled substance (carfentanil).

Robert Hinojosa, assistant prosecuting attorney, Lapeer County, said Whitman’s case in the first in the county whereby a defendant has been charged with a crime directly related to alleged possession of carfentanil.

Hinojosa said it’s alleged that Whitman is a four-time habitual offender, which could lead to a conviction of up to life in prison.

Carfentanil — 10,000 times stronger than morphine — mixed with heroin, and sometimes sold in pill form, puts Michigan residents at great risk of accidental overdose and death due to the extreme potency of the drug, according to the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

An amount equal to a few granules the size of grains of table salt can be lethal.

Adverse health effects — disorientation, coughing, sedation, respiratory distress or cardiac arrest, and death — can occur within minutes of exposure.

“It’s a public danger,” Hinojosa said. “It’s important that we continue to vigilantly prosecute these cases.”

Lapeer County Undersheriff Jeremy Howe said in June that “the nightmare is here” with regard to carfentanil being found in heroin police found as part of a separate incident in Attica Township.

Hinojosa said police found Whitman slumped over the wheel of his car while parked at the Marathon gas station at 373 Lake Nepessing Road near the intersection of John Conley Drive at the entrance to the Lapeer Industrial and Research Park.

Initially, Hinojosa said, police believed Whitman to have been drunk.

“They ran him through some field sobrieties and determined he was operating under the influence,” Hinojosa said. “When they went to arrest him, they patted him down and found a plastic container.”

The plastic container and contents were sent to the Michigan State Police lab in Bridgeport.

“Originally, they thought it was cocaine but it came back as carfentanil,” Hinojosa said.

Whitman is out of jail after posting 10 percent of a $10,000 bond and is set to be back in court on Oct. 25 for a pre-trial hearing.

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