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A Kitchener, Ont., couple pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Thursday to charges linked to a scheme to export pentylone and furanyl fentanyl.

Karl Morrison, 59, and Sorina Morrison, 60, entered pleas before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The husband pleaded to attempting to export pentylone and furanyl fentanyl and the wife pleaded to concealing a felony. Karl Morrison faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine and Sorina Morrison, three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In a statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang described the scheme:

On Aug. 29, officers intercepted a package mailed from China addressed to Karl Morrison at a location in Niagara Falls, N.Y. In the package were four sample-sized packets of powder – two containing 4-methoxy butyryl fentanyl and para-fluoro butyryl fentanyl, both synthetic substances considered analogs of highly lethal fentanyl.

On Oct. 15, the Morrisons entered the United States at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and retrieved four packages, bought shipping supplies and repackaged the contents into envelopes to be shipped back to Canada, including one to their home address.

Sorina Morrison claimed one of the repackaged parcels contained cinnamon butter, when it actually contained more than 500 grams of powder containing pentylone. Another of the parcels contained about 6 1/2 grams of powder containing furanyl fentanyl. The three parcels were intercepted by authorities before they could be shipped to Canada.

The couple, meanwhile, discarded the Chinese shipping labels in garbage cans around Niagara County to cover their tracks. They also obtained the name and address of an unsuspecting Niagara Falls resident to use as the return address on the packages shipped to Canada.

They were arrested as they drove back across the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge toward Canada.

Several days later, law enforcement officials recovered yet another Chinese parcel that had been delivered for Karl Morrison, which contained nearly 500 grams of powder containing pentylone.

The stimulant pentylone is commonly used as a designer drug and is comparable to MDMA. Furanyl fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and far more potent than heroin.

The Morrisons will be sentenced July 25.

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