LIBERTY, Mo. — A Liberty man was sentenced Thursday for distributing fentanyl from his apartment near Liberty High School, federal prosecutors say.

A judge sentenced Daniel I. Ramirez to 11 years in federal prison with no chance of parole.

The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, one count of distributing fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a public high school and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

A co-defendant, 23-year-old Valerie Rios, also pleaded guilty to the same charges and is awaiting sentencing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.

Prosecutors say Ramirez conspired to distribute fentanyl in spring 2021. Court documents say Rios also sold fentanyl to an undercover detective three times in March 2021.

When law enforcement executed a search warrant at Ramirez’s apartment, which is near the high school, officers found a bag of over 180 counterfeit oxycodone pills that were actually fentanyl.

Officers also found a loaded Smith and Wesson .45-caliber handgun, four magazines, ammunition and over $12,000 in cash.

This spring, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said fentanyl is becoming a concerning problem in the county. From July 2021 to April 2022, sheriff’s office detectives recovered over 750 fentanyl-laced pills, the agency said.

The sheriff’s office hosted a series of drug education summits, where Sheriff Will Akin said they’ve seen too many overdoses with young people losing their lives. Officials said they worry fentanyl will eventually wipe out a large portion of an entire generation.

“One is too many. Oftentimes what happens is someone will try it and they will die. They will overdose. That’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Akin previously said.

Drug agents said illegal drug manufacturers are now lacing virtually everything with fentanyl. Blue “M-30s,” believed to be oxycodone, ecstasy pills and candied heroin are the most common culprits according to investigators.

“Fentanyl as a drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times than morphine,” Clay County Sgt. Gary Blackwell previously said.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Liberty Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration all worked on this investigation.

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