BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- A man from Canada and a man from the United Kingdom have been indicted in Georgia on charges that they sent fentanyl to two U.S. Navy petty officers who died from overdoses in October 2017.
Thomas Michael Federuik, 59, of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Paul Anthony Nicholls, 44, of Surrey, England, are charged with conspiracy to import and distribute drugs and money laundering conspiracy.
Because prosecutors allege deaths resulted from the charges, the men could face a minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted of the drug charges. They could also face fines up to $10 million.
Federuik and Nichols were indicted under seal in 2019. The case became public last week.
"The prevalence of this drug is, in large part, fueled by an illicit pipeline of illegally imported drugs,” David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said in a statement. “This investigation sought to trace that pipeline to its source to cut off its flow to our country in an effort to protect our citizens from harm.”
The two overdose victims lived in Kingsland, near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in the far southeast corner of Georgia.
Officials say Federuik and Nichols sold drugs using a website designed to be hidden from the public on the “dark web," sometimes accepting cryptocurrency in payment. The drugs would arrive from Canada in packages labeled “East Van Eco Tours.” Canadian investigators, including those in Calgary, targeted a vendor dubbed Canada1, who prosecutors say is Federuik.
The indictment alleges Federuik and Nicholls acquired the drugs from places including China and Hungary. The two men are in custody and and are awaiting extradition proceedings to bring them to Georgia. No attorneys for the men are listed in American court records.