A Wesleyan University football player waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty on Tuesday before US District Judge Bolden in Bridgeport to distributing a synthetic hallucinogenic drug at his school.
An investigation revealed that Ryan Welch, 22, of Salem, MA, distributed “2C-B,” which his victim ingested on Halloween in 2015.
Initially, according to the US Attorney’s office, Welch distributed the drug in liquid form, mixing it in a water bottle with a non-alcoholic drink. Later, he distributed it in powder form, in clear capsules. Some teammates referred to the 2C-B distributed by Welch as “Welchie’s drug” or “Welchie’s special.” Certain players paid Welch approximately $10 for each single-dose capsule.
The investigation further revealed that Welch purchased the synthetic drug on the Dark Web using Bitcoin. He was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on January 21, 2016.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on October 31, 2015, the Wesleyan University Department of Public Safety responded to an emergency call from a campus dorm room and found a male student in severe medical distress. The victim was convulsing and struggling to breathe, and his body temperature was significantly elevated. The victim was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he spent several days recovering.
“Federal law enforcement once again finds itself on a university campus, investigating the broad distribution of a synthetic hallucinogen that nearly caused the fatal overdose of a college student,” said US Attorney Deirdre Daly.
Back in December, another Wesleyan student, Eric Lonergan, 23, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and to distribute, MDMA, popularly known as Ecstasy or, more recently as “Molly.”
The charges against Lonergan stemmed from an investigation into the distribution of controlled substances that caused multiple Wesleyan University students to overdose earlier in 2015.
Mr. Welch was found have distributed 2C-B to between 15 and 20 other members of the football team at Wesleyan during the 2015 season.
“Too many young people believe synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs when, as this case makes abundantly clear, they are highly dangerous,” Daly said on Tuesday.
Welch pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, 2C-E and 2C-B, Schedule I controlled substances (hallucinogens). The offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
Judge Bolden scheduled sentencing for May 20, 2016. Welch is released on a $100,000 bond.
This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Spector and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Eugene Calistro of the Middlesex State’s Attorney’s Office, who has been cross-designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this matter.