CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Two Iowa men who unwittingly sold elephant tranquilizers that looked like prescription painkillers have been sentenced to prison.
Cameron Lensmeyer and Evan Sage, both 20 and residents of Waverly, were sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.
Prosecution and defense attorneys agreed the two didn't know what the pills contained when they obtained and sold them. Officers who searched their home in June 2017 also initially thought they had seized 800 oxycodone pills.
The pair sold hundreds of pills they obtained from a darknet connection. The pills looked like those containing the painkiller oxycodone but were really made of the opioid carfentanil — an elephant tranquilizer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Chatham said carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, which is more powerful than heroin.
"Just one slight miscalculation and you have a dead body on the other side," Chatham said.
Sage and Lensmeyer apologized during the sentencing hearing. Sage's attorney, Jill Johnston, said Sage was surprised when he discovered what the pills contained and was thankful nobody died.
But Judge Linda Reade told the two that "ignorance of what you are selling is no defense."
She sentenced Lensmeyer to more than four years in prison and Sage to just over seven years. Lensmeyer had pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute carfentanil and marijuana, while Sage had pleaded guilty to possession for sale of carfentanil, cocaine and marijuana and to a weapons charge.