Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the agency that led the investigation into the fentanyl overdose.
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego man pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to distributing the fentanyl-laced pills that killed a Poway teenager earlier this year.
Jose Daniel Ramirez, 20, admitted to selling the pills, which were disguised as oxycodone, to the the 19-year-old hours before their death on Jan. 3, the office of acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden said in a release.
Special agents and task force officers the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) “Fentanyl Abatement and Suppression Team” led the investigation into the death of the teen, referred to in court as K.W.P, alongside the San Diego Sheriff’s Office.
In the course of the investigation into the overdose, law enforcement discovered that Ramirez exchanged a series of text messages with K.W.P. to arrange the sale of “2 blues” earlier that day, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Then, after learning of K.W.P.’s death, prosecutors say Ramirez continued to sell fentanyl by changing his phone number and informing clients of the new way to contact him.
“It is outrageous that this defendant continued to sell fentanyl even after learning of their customers’ deaths,” Haden said. “Fentanyl deaths resulting from the actions of profits-seeking drug dealers will continue to be zealously prosecuted.”
On Feb. 8, Ramirez was arrested at his home by law enforcement for one charge for the distribution of fentanyl. According to SDSO, he was in the process of selling additional pills to an 18-year-old at the time of his arrest.
A search warrant was carried out by law enforcement following Ramirez’s arrest, prosecutors said. Investigators located two Glock handguns, over 250 rounds of ammunition, and about 2,600 blue pills containing fentanyl along with cocaine and other drugs.
“Fentanyl kills indiscriminately, and the defendants’ callous and irresponsible disregard led to the tragic death of a teenager,” Chad Plantz, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego, said in a release. “Overdoses due to fentanyl have dramatically increased – this is unacceptable.”
Ramirez is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2024 at 9 a.m., according to Haden. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.