Portland Man Pleads Guilty for Role in Overdose Death of Teenager


News Release from U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon
December 13th, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local man pleaded guilty in federal court today for distributing fentanyl that caused the overdose death of a Portland teenager.

Tanner Welsh, 20, a Portland resident, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing fentanyl to a person under the age of twenty-one.

According to court documents, on November 10, 2022, officers from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) responded to a fatal overdose of a 17-year-old teenager. Investigating officers located several small blue pills near the teenager’s body they believed were counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. An autopsy later confirmed the teenager died from fentanyl poisoning.

Further investigation revealed that the teenager had exchanged several text messages with Welsh shortly before overdosing in response to an online ad posted by Welsh offering the sale of controlled substances. Investigators also learned that Welsh had personally traveled to the teenager’s house to deliver the fentanyl pills.

On January 24, 2024, special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) located and arrested Welsh who admitted selling fentanyl and Xanax pills to the deceased teenager.

On February 8, 2023, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Welsh on one count of possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. Later, on November 30, 2023, he was charged by superseding criminal information with distributing fentanyl to a person under the age of twenty-one.

Distributing fentanyl to a person under the age of twenty-one is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, a $2 million fine, and six years of supervised release.

Welsh will be sentenced on March 13, 2023, by U.S. District Court Judge Adrienne Nelson.

As part of his plea agreement, Welsh has agreed to pay restitution in full to a designated family member of his deceased victim as requested by the government and ordered by the court.

This case was investigated by PPB and HSI and was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.