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Man charged with importing tranquilizers from Mexico for assisted suicides

MCALLEN, Texas - A Las Vegas man was charged Friday with importing tranquilizers from Mexico that he intended to provide to people seeking to commit suicide. The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson, Southern District of Texas, and are the result of an investigation by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jeff George Ostfeld, 33, of Las Vegas, Nev., was arrested Monday upon entering the United States at the port of entry in Progresso, Texas, from Nuevo Progresso, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

According to federal prosecutors, Ostfeld allegedly imported 1,200 milliliters of pentobarbital, a schedule II controlled substance, into the United States from Mexico. An ICE agent testified in court Friday that pentobarbital, an animal tranquilizer, was found in four cans with screw-on tops that Ostfeld had purchased to carry it. Additional bottles of the drug, along with other pills, were discovered in his luggage. A total of 1,200 milliliters of pentobarbital were seized, along with other drugs.

Prosecutors also filed a motion to detain Ostfeld without bond, saying he is both a flight risk and a danger to the community. They testified that in addition to having no ties to the Rio Grande Valley, Ostfeld is unemployed and has led a less-than-stable lifestyle in Las Vegas. Ostfeld is under investigation for his alleged involvement in the May 18 assisted suicide of 29-year-old Jennifer Yolanda Malone, of Oregon, at a hotel in Nuevo Progresso, Tamaulipas, Mexico. U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby ordered Ostfeld held without bond.

U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials are cooperating to investigate the circumstances leading to Malone's death.

Importing pentobarbital and possessing it with the intent of distributing it each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

ICE is conducting the ongoing investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Leo and Juan Alanis, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.