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Sylva woman found guilty in federal court, facing 20 years in prison

Megan Emily Tate, 28, of Sylva, N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Carleton Metcalf this morning and pleaded guilty to distributing a substance that contained fentanyl which resulted in serious bodily injury, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees North Carolina, and Sheriff Doug Farmer of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to filed court documents and today’s plea hearing, in April 2021, deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tate for suspected distribution of fentanyl. Court records show that while Tate was in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center, she supplied two inmates with fentanyl, causing them to overdose. As a result, both overdose victims were transported to the hospital and one victim was placed on a ventilator. Both victims later recovered from their drug overdose. According to court documents, over the course of the investigation into the drug overdose incidents, law enforcement determined that Tate had supplied each victim with a substance that contained fentanyl, which Tate was able to conceal and later retrieve from a body cavity.

During the April 2021 incident, Tate was in custody waiting trial for drug trafficking. In July 13, North Carolina Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bradley B. Letts sentenced Tate to at 140 months in the NC Department of Public Corrections after she was found guilty of two counts of drug trafficking. Tate was found with illegal drugs on Jan. 10, 2020, during a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop. She was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on U.S. 441. Tate

According to the DEA, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 100,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses and drug poisonings in the 12-month period ending in January 2022. Sixty-seven percent of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Some of these deaths were attributed to fentanyl mixed with other illicit drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, with many users unaware they were actually taking fentanyl.

Tate is currently in federal custody. At sentencing, Tate faces a sentence of 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the DEA’s Asheville Post of Duty and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kent of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case. 

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