LANSING, MICHIGAN — On 12 Jan. 2021, Keenan Jermaine Dunigan, 34, pled guilty in federal court to distributing a fatal dose of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl to a 24-year-old Virginia native, then a resident of Kalamazoo.
Dunigan, whose trial was scheduled to begin on 26 January in U.S. District Court in Lansing, was charged with eight different counts involving drug-trafficking and firearms possession. He pled guilty to the most serious count, pursuant to a plea-agreement with the Government that requires a sentence between 25 and 35 years in prison. If he had gone to trial and been convicted of the distribution-causing-death charge, Dunigan would have been subject to a sentence of mandatory life-imprisonment.
In the afternoon of 14 Jan. 2020, the victim was discovered by his girlfriend in their apartment, unconscious and unresponsive. She called 911 and first-responders arrived to find the victim dead. Officers from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) also responded and recovered from a container in the apartment what appeared to be a residual amount of heroin. A few hours earlier and not far away, members of a Michigan State Police (MSP) fugitive team had located and arrested Dunigan on outstanding warrants. The MSP team had been working to find and arrest Dunigan because he became a fugitive in September 2019 after absconding from bond in a state drug-trafficking case, and also because he was the subject of a federal arrest warrant. This federal warrant issued because Dunigan stopped reporting as required under the terms of his supervised release, which began in October 2018 when he was released from federal prison after completing a 13-year-sentence for a 2008 federal drug-trafficking case. When arrested on 14 Jan. 2020, Dunigan was in the middle of making another drug sale.
Examination of the victim’s body determined that he died from a fatal dose of fentanyl. Laboratory examination of both the controlled substance recovered from his apartment and a controlled substance recovered during Dunigan’s arrest determined that both substances were the same unique mixture that included fentanyl and cutting agents.
Investigation by KDPS, the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement team (KVET, an interagency drug unit), the Portage Police Department, and the DEA determined that Dunigan ran a very active heroin/fentanyl-dealing operation for at least several months before the victim died, and that Dunigan sold the victim the fentanyl that killed him. ATF assisted with the firearms investigation.
After Dunigan’s arrest on 14 Jan. 2020, he contacted three acquaintances and enlisted them to continue the drug business, at Dunigan’s direction from jail. Those three, also federally charged, have all pled guilty to drug-trafficking crimes. They are: Richie Lee Edmonds III, 30, of Kalamazoo; Sierra Singleton-Moore, 31, of Kalamazoo; and Jennifer Lynne Davis, 33, of Battle Creek.
“Anyone involved in illegal opioid distribution in West Michigan had better be clear-eyed about the fact that they are not just risking the lives of their customers, they are risking their own liberty—liberty measured by decades. The West Michigan law-enforcement community will come after them, they will be charged and convicted, and it will be a very long time before they get to make any important life-decisions for themselves again,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge.
“The opioid crisis has torn lives apart, creating a great deal of pain and trauma in families across the Kalamazoo community. I was pleased to learn about these indictments, guilty pleas, and upcoming sentencings. I hope they make it clear that we will not tolerate illegal narcotics distribution in our community. I want to express my gratitude to the United States Attorney’s Office, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Michigan State Police for their tireless work in bringing an end to this opioid distribution network. Cooperation and partnerships like these enable us to bring justice to the victims of this crisis,” added KDPS Chief Vernon Coakley Jr.
Sentencings for all four defendants have been scheduled during May 2021 in Lansing, before U.S. District Judge Hala Y. Jarbou. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Zell and Hagen W. Frank.