California

L.A. lawyer’s cryptic Craigslist ads were a secret drug-selling operation, cops say

Why it’s so hard to break an opioid addiction

More than half a million people died between 2000 and 2015 from opioid use. In 2017 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency.
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More than half a million people died between 2000 and 2015 from opioid use. In 2017 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency.

“Black Rice” was code for black tar heroin. “Chinese **White** Rice” was powdered heroin, often laced with the potent and deadly synthetic opiate fentanyl. “Xavier Cabbage Patch Dolls” were the party drug ecstasy, and “tram jam classic dolls” referred to the painkiller tramadol, offered for $4 a pill.

Those were just some of the cryptic terms of art that Jackie Ferrari, a 36-year old Los Angeles attorney, used in Craigslist posts peddling oxycodone pills and a handful of other drugs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release on Tuesday.

Ferrari, who lives in Downey in southeast Los Angeles County, was arrested Friday night on charges of narcotics distribution, federal prosecutors said. She appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon and — if convicted — would face a statutory minimum of 20 years behind bars, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Ferrari is being released on $25,000 bond and has another court appearance set for Feb. 27, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, in an email to McClatchy.

Prosecutors described Ferrari as a “large-scale trafficker in opiates” and said they believe she recently began a new job as an attorney at a Beverly Hills firm. But in some Craigslist posts, Ferrari offered to help with house sitting or pet sitting, and described herself as “an attorney currently considering an alternate career,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday and obtained by McClatchy.

The dozens and dozens of posts Ferrari is accused of creating offered drugs ranging from Adderall to oxycodone, as well as drug paraphernalia, the complaint said.

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Ferrari’s arrest comes after she sold a law enforcement source 50 oxycodone pills in exchange for $1,200 earlier this month, according to the complaint, which was filed Jan. 15. Ferrari later texted the same source — and some of her other customers — to say she had “recently obtained a new supply of oxycodone and [had] other drugs available for sale,” the complaint said.

Ferrari was on the radar of police departments outside of L.A. County, too: Undercover detectives with Orange County’s Cypress Police Department responded to a Craigslist ad posted by a woman who identified herself as “Jackie” and offered to sell illegal drugs — but those investigators “ultimately did not go forward with the controlled buy, because the seller (‘Jackie’) demanded that the detective ingest one of the pills in front of her to verify the detective was not a law enforcement officer,” the complaint said.

craigslist post.jpg
A Craigslist post from January that authorities said is tied to a phone number Ferrari used. The word “Roxy” refer to Roxicodone, a type of oxycodone, while “blue” refers to the color of particularly strong pills, according to a criminal complaint. U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

Craigslist posts suggested that requirement was one of Ferrari’s common strategies to avoid dealing to undercover cops, according to the complaint.

“First time we meet, I will ask you to take one in front of me,” one Craigslist post tied to Ferrari said, according to the complaint. “Any method is acceptable. If you won’t do this, I cannot selling [sic] to you. No exceptions.”

Federal investigators began looking into Ferrari’s dealings after a 22-year-old woman died of a fentanyl overdose on Aug. 19, 2018, because iMessages on the woman’s phone in the days before her death were tied to Ferrari, the complaint said. But investigators said they now believe the drugs that killed the woman came from someone else.

Prosecutors said Drug Enforcement Administration officers and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department carried out the investigation, and that Cypress and Costa Mesa Police helped.

Ryan Hillmer, a recovering heroin addict, was saved during an overdose by the drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, among others. Naloxone can be easily acquired and legally carried.



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