For Immediate Release
Operation Hard Pressed Results in Charges Against Seven Defendants for Selling Fentanyl, Cocaine and Fake Xanax Pills
Seven suspects were arrested Tuesday in Tulsa for allegedly taking part in a drug trafficking organization operating in the Tulsa metro area that distributed counterfeit Xanax pills, cocaine, and fentanyl.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling and holding accountable criminal organizations that endanger communities across Oklahoma,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “The seven arrests and searches at 10 locations were the result of a meticulous investigation into defendant Tristan Barlow’s drug trafficking organization. Barlow and six coconspirators are alleged to have distributed deadly fentanyl, cocaine and thousands of counterfeit Xanax pills in the Northern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere. My office will seek to hold these alleged drug traffickers accountable in a federal court.”
Agents and task force officers conducted searches on multiple residences, stash houses, a storage unit, and two parcels of rural land. During the searches, law enforcement located a tent set up at a residence with a pill press and ventilation system, thousands of pills, cash, and nineteen firearms, which included three AR-15 rifles, an AK-47, an Uzi machine gun, and handguns.
A Criminal Complaint and affidavit filed late Wednesday in federal court alleged that Barlow, 30, led the criminal operation and that members included Zachary Caughron, 30; Natalie Foutch, 20; Richard Markham, 35; Kolby Milford, 27; Christopher Ruff, 30; and Jacob Shoate, 21. Defendants were charged with drug conspiracy and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
According to the documents, the drug trafficking organization imported raw clonazolam powder from Europe that was pressed into hundreds of thousands of counterfeit Xanax pills. Investigators estimate that Barlow provided some of his distributors between 10,000 and 20,000 pills per week and others between 20,000 and 40,000 per week for sale within the Northern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere. The drug trafficking organization further received fentanyl and cocaine from a source of supply in Mexico.
In 2022, law enforcement conducted multiple controlled buys of the counterfeit Xanax pills, cocaine and fentanyl. The counterfeit pills were stamped with GG249 and appeared to be Xanax but were later tested in a laboratory and found to contain clonazolam as well as methamphetamine.
“The successful arrests of numerous alleged members of this sophisticated drug trafficking organization, responsible for the distribution of deadly quantities of various drugs, to include cocaine and fentanyl, throughout our neighborhoods, is one step closer to a safer Oklahoma,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez, who oversees operations in the State. “Our special agents, intelligence analysts, and task force officers spent countless hours, along with many of our law enforcement partners, ensuring justice is served for those who profit from illicit drug trafficking.”
The arrests and searches were conducted as part of Operation Hard Pressed, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Tonkin. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Tulsa Police Department, and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.
This matter will proceed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, where the Complaint is currently pending. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. A Complaint is a temporary charge alleging a violation of law. For the case to proceed to trial, the United States must present the charge to a federal Grand Jury within 30 days. Once a Grand Jury returns an Indictment, a defendant has a right to a jury trial at which the United States would have the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.