Wesleyan football player pleads guilty to dealing teammates drug that caused overdose

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HARTFORD — A Wesleyan University football player has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he distributed a synthetic drug to fellow members of the team, one of which overdosed and was hospitalized.

“Federal law enforcement once again finds itself on a university campus, investigating the broad distribution of a synthetic hallucinogen that nearly caused the fatal overdose of a college student,” said U.S. Attorney Dierdre Daly.

Ryan Welch, a junior defensive back, was accused of providing up to 20 teammates with a drug mixture that was described in court papers as a synthetic version of “Molly and acid.” Authorities say it was known as “Welchie’s Special,” or “2C-B.” Initially, Welch distributed the drug in liquid form in a water bottle mixed with a non-alcoholic drink, but later gave it out in powder form in clear capsules. Players paid about $10 for a single-dose capsule.

The federal investigation began in October, when emergency crews responded to a male student in a dorm who went into convulsions after taking the drug. He also had trouble breathing and his body temperature was very high. The student was hospitalized for several days.

Welch said he bought the synthetic drug on the Dark Web using Bitcoin.

“Too many young people believe synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs when, as this case makes abundantly clear, they are highly dangerous,” Daley said.

He was arrested on January 21 and was released on a $100,000 bond.

The 22-year-old from Salem, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of a controlled substance (hallucinogen). He faces a 20-year sentence and a fine of up to $1 million.

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.