SEATTLE — A Lynnwood man who reportedly trafficked hundreds of fentanyl pills a day and preyed on the addictions of his own distributors was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Rhett Irons, 41, advertised the fentanyl-laced pills he sold as “supers,” a cheaper and stronger alternative to oxycodone, U.S. attorneys wrote. He often got his distributors addicted to fentanyl and collected on the debt from the drugs they used instead of sold. When that debt became too high, he cut them off.
One customer, who worked on Irons’ cars in exchange for drugs, died from an overdose.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This defendant exploited others’ addictions so he could live a life of luxury,” U.S. Attorney Brian Moran said in a statement. “Testimony at trial revealed he got his dealers and customers hooked on fentanyl — a powerful and potentially fatal opioid — all so he could make more money and have the cars and vacations he thought he deserved.”
In December, a jury in U.S. District Court in Seattle found Irons guilty of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl pills, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Special agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation that led to Irons’ arrest in February 2019, with help from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.
During the investigation, agents talked to confidential sources and conducted controlled drug buys. They learned that much of Irons’ business was based out of a luxury home he rented in Bothell — what distributors called “the mansion,” complete with a pool, a hot tub and tennis courts.
There, agents found a loaded Glock semiautomatic pistol and ammunition under a mattress, as well as hundreds of fentanyl and oxycodone pills, cocaine and more than $50,000 in cash. In the basement was a gun safe with eight firearms, including three assault rifles, according to charging papers. As a convicted felon, Irons couldn’t have guns.
On Feb. 7, 2019, agents arrested Irons. While at the federal detention center, he called his girlfriend several times, complaining about his distributors.
“They’re pointing fingers,” he said, according to court documents. “They’re not going to like it because I’ll (expletive) break every single one of them apart.”
His girlfriend told Irons to stop talking, reminding him the calls were recorded.
He said he didn’t mean physically; instead he was going to “break every single one of them down.”
“I promise you, I’ll have them hurting — like emotionally,” he reportedly said.
During court proceedings, Irons pressured his girlfriend and other witnesses, according to U.S. attorneys.
Moran commented in a news release that it was impossible to tell how many lives Irons shattered.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis also had strong words to share.
“Today, the head of this poisonous snake was cut off,” Weis said in a statement.