'Drug Llama,' convicted fentanyl dealer, denied compassionate release over hernia

Melissa Scanlan ran lucrative cartel-connected fentanyl business based on dark web

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel WLS logo
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Convicted fentanyl dealer denied compassionate release
A convicted fentanyl dealer has been denied compassionate release for a hernia operation.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A convicted fentanyl dealer known as the "Drug Llama," who wanted freedom for a hernia operation, has been given no mercy.

Melissa Scanlan, who is serving 13 years, was making a play to get out of prison for compassionate release despite having run a lucrative cartel-connected fentanyl business based on the dark web.

When the ABC7 I-Team first uncovered Scanlan and her 50,000-pill-per-month business operating in southern California, she seemed untouchable. That was until federal agents and U.S. prosecutors in southern Illinois traced a surge in fentanyl purchases to her website.

As the I-Team first reported, Scanlan sold the fentanyl that ended up killing a 41-year-old woman in southern California. Adrienne Wood, a regular customer of the Drug Llama, died of an overdose in September 2017.

Scanlan is now locked up at the Victorville Medium Security prison in San Bernardino County, California.

It was late last year when she asked for compassionate release from prison, but the explanation was sealed.

Now, newly filed court records reveal it was a "massive posterior diaphragmatic hernia," but the judge denied her compassionate release because "Scanlan had surgery to repair the hernia" in December, and, according to the judge, such compassionate release "was barred by the terms of her plea agreement."

The Drug Llama will remain penned up in southern California, 1,800 miles from southern Illinois, where she once trafficked a drug that is ravaging communities.

When Scanlan was arrested and locked up, she was five months pregnant, and she had the baby in the penitentiary.

Now, without a merciful release from federal prison, the 36-year-old mother is looking at a prison release date of January 2030, just in time for her child to enter the fifth grade.

There is no immediate word from her attorneys.


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