According to a United States Attorney's Office Northern District of New York press release, a Utica man has pled guilty to two charges for possessing and conspiring to distribute fentanyl in Central New York.

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According to the press release, 37-year-old Eric Ares of Utica, New York pled guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and one county of possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl.

Ares admitted to traveling to New York City to purchase fentanyl from May 2020 through October 2021 with co-conspirators in the Rodriguez drug trafficking organization, which he would return to Utica with to re-distribute. On September 20, 2021, he received three kilograms of fentanyl from the New York City area. Police stopped his vehicle on his return trip and discovered the fentanyl hidden inside a speaker in the trunk of his vehicle.

Ares faced a minimum of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life imprisonment, a fine of up to $10 million and a term of supervised release of at least five years and potentially for life. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2023.

New York, like much of the United States, has seen a consistent rise in overdose deaths over the past decade. According to the Office of the New York State Comptroller, there were 5,841 overdose deaths in New York in 2021 compared to just 1,557 in 2010. With the increased prevalence of fentanyl, that number could rise even higher.

Opioid overdose deaths in Broome County have followed a similar trend to the rest of the state. In 2020, Broome County had a rate of 35.8 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents, more than double the 2019 state average of 15.1 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 residents.

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