Melissa Scanlan, the “Drug Llama” fentanyl dealer convicted in Illinois, is attempting to get out of prison.
Scanlan is serving a 13-year sentence and is seeking compassionate release despite running a lucrative cartel-connected fentanyl business on the dark web.
Scanlan’s co-defendant was previously denied a similar compassionate release request, claiming that COVID was too dangerous to be held in prison.
According to federal prosecutors in Southern Illinois, where she was facing drug and money-laundering charges, the Drug Llama was moving 50,000 fentanyl pills over the dark web from her home in Southern California in 2018. Scanlan was five months pregnant when she was arrested and imprisoned.
Scanlan, as the I-Team first reported, sold the fentanyl that killed a 41-year-old woman in Southern California. Adrienne Wood, a Drug Llama regular, died of an overdose in September 2017.
Scanlan is now requesting compassionate release from a California prison. The specifics of her request are confidential due to a court order, but her co-defendant made a similar request, claiming that COVID made it too dangerous to remain in prison.
Federal records show only one current COVID case at the Victorville Medium Security facility in San Bernardino County, despite the Llama’s request for release.
“During COVID there was an explosion of filings by incarcerated defendants saying that because of COVID they should be released early because of the risks imposed but those numbers are already beginning to dwindle,” Gil Soffer explained.
Gil Soffer, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago and an ABC7 legal analyst, says the rush to release prisoners during the early days of the pandemic has subsided.
Federal data released tonight show 1,300 COVID prison releases in 2020 — nearly two-thirds of all granted compassionate freedom motions mention COVID; a figure that fell slightly in 2021 and appears to be falling in the latest figures.
“People are still playing the COVID card and they’re meeting with less and less success,” Soffer explained.
To respond to Scanlan’s request, federal prosecutors have until the end of the year, and no decision is expected until 2023. Scanlan’s attorney told the I-Team on Monday that he hasn’t spoken with her in a while and that she filed the motion for mercy on her own.
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