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Dealer in Fatal OD Convicted on Narcotics Charge

Carol Kay

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LOS ANGELES – A nan who sold the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl to a 23-year-old man who suffered a fatal overdose has agreed to plead guilty to drug trafficking offense and serve 15 years in federal prison.

James Dorion Rodriguez, of Van Nuys, agreed to plead guilty to possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute in a plea agreement filed today in United States District Court.

In the plea agreement, Rodriguez admits that he delivered fentanyl to the victim, who ingested the drug and suffered a fatal overdose in Sherman Oaks on the morning of March 18, 2018.

Court documents filed in this case detail how investigators used surveillance video, phone records and witness statements to determine that Rodriguez supplied the narcotics to the victim only hours before he was found dead. Investigators believe that Rodriguez had intended to sell cocaine to the victim, but accidentally gave him fentanyl instead. The overdose was the result of him snorting the fentanyl.

Rodriguez is expected to appear to enter his guilty plea before United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney later this month. The plea agreement calls for Judge Carney to impose a sentence of 15 years in federal prison. Should Judge Carney decide to impose a different sentence, either Rodriguez or the government could withdraw from the plea agreement and the case would proceed to trial.

The investigation into Rodriguez was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case initially brought against Rodriguez one year ago was the first pursuant to a law enforcement partnership established to aggressively investigate opioid overdose deaths and prosecute the responsible drug dealers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Opioid Response Team is part of the Southern California Drug Task Force, which operates under the auspices of the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Barron, Chief of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

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