Six individuals accused of selling thousands of fentanyl pills on Lummi Reservation and elsewhere in Whatcom County — including three from Bellingham — face drug-trafficking charges, federal prosecutors said.
A 33-year-old Seattle man included in the indictment was sentenced Friday, Jan. 5 to six years in prison, according to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) news release.
One of the local defendants will be sentenced on March 29. Daniel John Faix, 41, of Bellingham pleaded guilty on Thursday, Jan. 4 of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and unlawful firearms possession.
The cases of two other Bellingham residents are pending. Matthew Anderson, 35, faces two counts of possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. His trial is set for March. Natasha Parkhill, 38, was arraigned in November on one charge related to selling fentanyl, the news release said.
Federal prosecutors brought charges against Seattle resident Ahbdurman Ahmed and five others in April 2023, after a months-long investigation. Law enforcement seized 1,000 fentanyl pills from Ahmed’s customers in January 2023 and found him with an additional 3,000 pills in March, the release stated.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Whatcom County Drug and Gang Task Force led the investigation, with assistance from the county sheriff’s office, the county prosecutor and Washington State Patrol.
“Losing one community member to an overdose, fatal or otherwise, is one community member too many — we are all family,” Sheriff Donnell Tanksley said in the DOJ statement. “We will also continue to work with our community partners to guide those affected by addiction to needed resources.”
Lummi Nation has been especially hard hit by the fentanyl epidemic. The tribe’s business council declared a state of emergency in September 2023, when at least seven tribal members died of overdose in a two-week period.
“We will go to any lengths to take armed traffickers off the streets and create a safe environment for Whatcom County and Lummi Nation residents, as we showed in this case,” said David F. Reames, special agent in charge at the DEA Seattle Field Division.
The number of fatal drug overdoses in Whatcom County continues to climb, with 132 confirmed and suspected overdose deaths in the county in 2023, compared to 91 in 2022 and 44 in 2021.