Man pleads guilty to selling fentanyl that caused deadly overdose

SAN DIEGO — A Pacific Beach resident pleaded guilty Thursday to federal drug charges for selling fentanyl powder that caused a man’s overdose death last year.

Maya Kol, 41, a Cambodian national living in San Diego illegally, admitted buying fentanyl that he initially believed was cocaine, which he later sold to the victims despite trying the substance and becoming ill, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal prosecutors say that on Sept. 7, 2018, Kol delivered a half-gram of the powder to victims identified only as J.E., J.H. and L.S. Kol told them the powder was cocaine, prosecutors said.

Later that day, L.S. contacted Kol, asking for help. When Kol arrived at the apartment of J.E. and J.H., they were unresponsive.

J.E. died and J.H. was hospitalized.

Prosecutors say Kol flushed his remaining fentanyl stash down his home’s toilet to hide evidence, though authorities conducted a search of his home and uncovered more than $5,000 in cash, as well as items indicative of drug sales.

“Not only did Mr. Kol’s greed and selfishness cost a life, but he tried to cover up his actions and destroy the weapon that killed J.E. — in this case fentanyl,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.

Kol is slated to be sentenced March 6.

J.E.’s death was one of three overdose deaths that occurred in Pacific Beach over the 2018 Labor Day weekend, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which said the person who sold Kol the fentanyl was among those who died.

In 2019, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office has recorded 89 fentanyl-related deaths, prosecutors said.

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