Feds: OSU chemistry grad linked to ‘clandestine’ drug lab

An OSU chemistry grad is alleged to have manufactured drugs

Malachi Duncan. (MCSO)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An Oregon State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry is being linked to a drug case involving synthetic opioids, including U-47700, and a clandestine laboratory.

Earlier this summer, a federal grand jury handed up a secret indictment against Malachi Duncan charging him with one count of attempted possession, with intent, to distribute and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

In January, federal agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) started looking into eBay purchases being made by a woman with the user account of “spev-2014.” The account was later linked to Duncan’s girlfriend.

The DEA determined that Duncan’s girlfriend had purchased drug manufacturing items, including a pill press and trademark punch dies for Xanax, Oxycontin, Alprazolam and Dilaudid, according to court records. She also is alleged to have purchased chemicals that are used in the binding process to make synthetic opioid pills, other ingredients that could be used to manufacture MDMA, or ecstasy and lab equipment. The purchases began in June 2014 and continued through January 2017.

Duncan’s girlfriend graduated from OSU with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, according to court documents. KOIN 6 News is not identifying her because she is not facing any criminal charges.

On Feb. 29, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized a package that had been shipped via FedEx from China to Malachi. The package reportedly contained 17.9 grams of U47700, which is a synthetic opioid.

In November 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration labeled U-47700 an “imminent threat to public health and safety.”

On May 4, 2017 special agents with the U.S. Postal Service took possession of a package that was being shipped to Duncan’s address, according to court documents. After obtaining a search warrant, officials found a white powdery substance that was later confirmed to be U-47700. The weight of the drugs was 173.7 grams.

“Based on [Duncan’s girlfriend’s] eBay purchases, Duncan’s seized packages…from China containing U47700 and [Duncan’s girlfriend’s] and Duncan’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry, I believe that [they] have acquired drug manufacturing equipment, chemicals, and synthetic opioids and have created a clandestine laboratory for the manufacture of illicit and counterfeit control substances,” DEA special agent Jason T. Murray wrote in court documents.

When federal officials executed a search warrant in Corvallis in May they recovered a pill press, chemicals, two laptop computers, a camera, pot, drug paraphernalia, cellphones, controlled substances, and other paperwork, according to court documents.

Duncan first appeared in U.S. District Court back in July and entered a not guilty plea and was eventually released from custody pending his October trial. Attempts to reach him by phone on Thursday were not immediately successful.

KOIN 6 News has confirmed that Duncan’s case is not connected with a U-47700 investigation that resulted in the overdose death of an 18-year-old in Southeast Portland.

In April, KOIN 6 News first reported that federal prosecutors in South Carolina charged two people with drug possession with the intent to distribute U-47700 following the of Aisha Zughieh-Collins in Southeast Portland.