Chula Vista Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Distributing Fentanyl-Laced Pills that Caused Overdose Death of 20-Year-Old
SAN DIEGO –Jonathan Mefford was sentenced in federal court today to 190 months in prison for selling fentanyl-laced pills that caused the death of a 20-year-old Chula Vista man, identified in court records as J.P., in October of 2018, and for distributing multi-pound level quantities of methamphetamine in Kansas.
Mefford previously admitted that he sold the pills to J.P. on October 29, 2018, and that he knew these pills contained fentanyl. Mefford additionally admitted that J.P.’s overdose and death was caused by the fentanyl-laced pills that J.P. purchased from Mefford. Finally, Mefford admitted that he transported multi-pound level quantities of methamphetamine from San Diego to Kansas. Once in Kansas, Mefford distributed the methamphetamine to various individuals.
Detectives from the Chula Vista Police Department’s Narcotics Enforcement Team in concert with investigators on DEA’s Narcotic Task Force (NTF) Team 10, also known as the Overdose Response Team, led the investigation into J.P.’s death and quickly identified Mefford as the source of the fatal pills. According to the sentencing memorandum, Mefford offered counterfeit prescription pills for sale through social media platforms and sold up to 500 pills. The sale of those pills not only led to the death of J.P., but another overdose where the victim fortunately survived. Notably, Mefford continued selling counterfeit pills for months following both overdoses.
“Today’s sentencing of Jonathan Mefford serves as a warning to anyone selling fentanyl-laced pills that there will be severe consequences if the pills you sell cause a death,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “One pill can kill. One pill can devastate a family. And one pill that causes a death can send you to prison for 15 years. DEA has resources available about the One Pill Can Kill campaign at www.dea.gov/onepill.”
“This case serves as a great example of why the Chula Vista Police Department works with our partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, by bringing law enforcement agencies together, to hold drug dealers accountable and help keep dangerous drugs like fentanyl out of our community,” said Chula Vista Police Department Chief Roxana Kennedy. “This investigation sends a strong message to drug dealers operating in Chula Vista and provides some measure of justice for the victim and his family.”
“The epidemic of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills continues to claim lives in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “To be clear: If you are a drug dealer selling pills, and those pills result in death, you will be held accountable for that death.” Grossman praised the prosecution team as well as the DEA’s NTF Team 10 and officials from the Chula Vista Narcotics Enforcement Team for their excellent work on this case.
“This 15-year sentence highlights the success of HSI’s collaborative efforts with our federal and local law enforcement partners in combating the opioid epidemic here and across the country,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego. “HSI is committed to holding those accountable who recklessly push this poison into our communities.”
This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DEA’s NTF Team 10, which includes investigators from DEA, HSI, FBI, San Diego Police Department, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Health Services and La Mesa Police Department, that investigate and prosecute the fentanyl source of supply that cause overdose deaths. The DEA created Team 10 in 2018 as a response to the increase in overdose deaths in San Diego County.
United States Attorney’s Office, Chula Vista Police Department, HSI, FBI, San Diego Police Department, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Health Services and La Mesa Police Department