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Leader of dark web opioid ring based in SA sentenced in federal court

Trafficking by Alaa Mohammed Allawi, an Iraqi immigrant, caused death of marine

SAN ANTONIO – Federal authorities are speaking Thursday morning following the federal sentencing of Alaa Mohammed Allawi, an Iraqi immigrant who was convicted of using the dark web and cryptocurrency to traffic fentanyl out of a home on the Northwest Side of San Antonio. 

"Allawi's narcotics trafficking scheme also resulted in the overdose death of a U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and serious bodily injury to two North Dakota residents," reads a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office in the Western District of Texas.

Allawi, who served as an interpreter for U.S. military forces, was one of eight men arrested in 2017 and implicated in the drug scheme. He was sentenced to 30 years and will be deported at the conclusion of the sentence, said U.S. Attorney John Bash. 

FIRST REPORT: Federal investigators shut down drug ring in San Antonio

Authorities said the ring trafficked nearly 1 million illegal pills, more than 300,000 of which were laced with the extremely deadly opioid fentanyl.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said the group allegedly manufactured pain and anxiety pills, laced with fentanyl or other drugs, using commercial pill presses they got from China.

Officials believe they also got the fentanyl from China.

The drug ring would then sell the drugs on the streets and on the internet.

The pills were first seen in December 2015 by UTSA police and SAPD, on the school's campus and on the streets.

Through the use of wiretaps, DEA investigators listened to the ring members discuss their business, including when they decided to move their lab from the home Allawi owned in the 13100 block of Regency Bend to a house he rented in Richmond near Houston.

Watch the post-sentencing press conference from local and federal officials.


About the Authors:

Kolten Parker

Before starting at KSAT in July 2019, Kolten was the digital editor at the Texas Observer magazine in Austin. Before that he was digital news editor at the San Antonio Express-News. Kolten graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and has also reported on politics at the Texas Legislature.

Julie Moreno

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide-variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s social media strategy.