Arizona Man Sentenced for Selling Fentanyl in Phoenix Homeless Camp

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell revealed that Cristian Machado, 21, has been sentenced for supplying the population of the major homeless camp in downtown Phoenix with fentanyl and other drugs.

“Selling illegal drugs to anyone in our community is a threat to public safety. To target those who are experiencing homelessness, and particularly vulnerable, is especially cruel, and this sentence demonstrates that my office will hold those who pose a danger to others accountable,” Mitchell said.

Machado pleaded guilty to one count of attempt to commit sale or transportation of dangerous drugs and one count of possession of narcotic drugs for sale. He is now sentenced to spend three and a half years in prison, followed by four years of probation.

According to court documents shared with The Arizona Sun Times by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, detectives began an undercover investigation to find a suspected drug dealer in May. The investigation occurred in downtown Phoenix’s massive homeless encampment known as “the Zone.” Detectives found homeless people openly smoking fentanyl pills and methamphetamine in the area around a homeless shelter. Officials eventually discovered that someone nicknamed “Ghost,” later revealed to be Machado, was selling drugs to the homeless population near the shelter for a low price. Detectives were able to get Machado’s number and began ordering methamphetamine from him to use as undercover evidence. After several purchases from May to June, officers went in to strike and found 1,000 fentanyl pills on him when making the arrest. Search warrants served later found an additional 13,000 pills at Machado’s residence.

Dealing with problems in the Zone has been an ongoing issue for the City of Phoenix (COP) and residents living in the area. In August, a group of citizens filed a lawsuit against the COP, arguing it was actively maintaining the Zone and not doing enough to reduce the number of homeless people living on the streets in the area. One complaint that appeared continuously throughout the suit was the rampant public drug use in the area. Joseph and Deborah Faillace, owners of the Old Station sandwich shop, reported finding used drug needles constantly littered on their property. Additionally, Ian Likwarz, a property owner in the area, recounted witnessing drug use on his doorsteps and drug deals on his property.

As for the fentanyl entering the county, a recent report from Nogales Port of Entry Director Michael Humphries showed that the drug flow is not slowing at the southern border. According to Humphries, border patrol officers made five drug busts between November 10-13, collecting over 3,000,000 fentanyl pills among other drugs in the process.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shared that two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on the user’s tolerance. One kilogram of pills is estimated to be enough to kill 500,000 people.

The average fentanyl pill weighs roughly one tenth of a gram. Therefore, Humphries’ reported seizures took 300 kilograms of fentanyl, enough to kill 150,000,000 people hypothetically. All of this came from one entry port along the southern border over the course of four days.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].




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