SHERMAN OAKS — James Dorion Rodriguez, 29, of Van Nyus was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for selling fentanyl to man who suffered a fatal overdose. United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney delivered the sentence on Monday, November 2.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rodriguez intended to sell cocaine to a 22-year-old man on March 18, 2018. Investigators said that Rodriguez “accidentally” gave fentanyl to the man, who ingested the drug immediately after receiving it and drove away. Hours later, the victim was found dead in his car in a nearby parking lot in the Sherman Oaks area.
In December of 2019, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. One month prior to the fentanyl incident, Rodriguez had been convicted in a separate drug trafficking case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to documents filed in the case, investigators were able to determine, by using surveillance video, phone records and witness statements, that Rodriguez supplied the narcotics to the victim only hours before he was found dead. They added that the victim died within 20 minutes of snorting the fentanyl.
After the incident, Rodriguez continued to deal in fentanyl and other opioids, according to officials. “In September 2018, investigators executed a search warrant of Rodriguez’s car and found approximately 7 grams of powder fentanyl, a digital scale, multiple notebooks documenting drug dealing, and plastic baggies,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted.
Rodriguez was arrested by federal authorities later that month in 2018, when he confessed to dealing fentanyl and delivering drugs to the victim on the night of the victim’s death in March of 2018.
The Los Angeles Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case, which is the first pursuant to a law enforcement partnership established to aggressively investigate opioid overdose deaths and prosecute the responsible drug dealers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin R. Barron prosecuted the case.