U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

January 25, 2019

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Fresno man charged with two counts of distributing fentanyl resulting in death

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against Darnell Pearson, 40, of Fresno, charging him with distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

“This defendant is alleged to have sold cocaine that was, in fact, fentanyl and caused the deaths of two people and serious injury to two others,” U.S. Attorney Scott stated. “Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and is a serious public health threat in our area and the nation as a whole. Even trace amounts of this drug can be lethal, and it poses serious risks to those who come into contact with it, including first responders. We will continue to work with our state and federal partners to target those who distribute this poison in our communities.”

According to court documents, on January 7, 2019, law enforcement officers responded to a call concerning an overdose in Fresno and found three individuals on the ground with faint or no pulse. All three individuals were transported to Community Regional Medical Center for treatment. One of the individuals was pronounced dead on January 10, 2019. A toxicology report determined that the cause of death for the individual was overdose from fentanyl. The other two individuals survived and were later released from the hospital. Pearson is charged in count one with distributing fentanyl to the three individuals resulting in death of one and serious bodily injury to the other two.

The second count of the indictment charges Pearson with distributing fentanyl to a victim in Madera, resulting in death on January 7, 2019.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Fresno Police Department, and the Madera Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laurel Montoya and Jeffrey A. Spivak are prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Pearson faces a minimum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life in prison, and a $1 million fine on each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.



DEA US Badge
United States Drug Enforcement Administration DEA.gov is an official site of the U.S. Department of Justice