San Diego, California - Pacific Beach resident Maya Kol pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday, admitting that he sold fentanyl powder that caused the death of one man and sent another to the hospital over Labor Day weekend in September 2018. A third man - Kol’s source of the fentanyl - also fatally overdosed that weekend from the same batch.
Kol, a Cambodian national living illegally in San Diego, admitted in his plea agreement that he purchased the fentanyl powder believing it to be cocaine. However, after he sampled the powder he noticed it tasted it different and then became woozy and nearly lost his balance from the effects of it. Despite his own troubling experience with the powder, Kol sold it to others and told them it was cocaine.
According to his plea agreement, on September 7, 2018, Kol met three individuals, J.E., J.H., and L.S., and delivered to them one-half gram of fentanyl powder and represented it as cocaine. Several hours later L.S. contacted Kol asking for help. Kol arrived to J.H. and L.S.’s apartment to find J.E. and J.H. non-responsive. When Kol realized authorities would be coming to the scene, he went back to his home and flushed his remaining fentanyl powder down the toilet. J.E. died from the fentanyl powder Kol sold to him. J.H. had to be administered Narcan (used to treat opioid overdoses) and rushed to the hospital, but survived the ordeal. L.S. was admitted to the hospital the following day for lingering symptons. A subsequent search of Kol’s residence uncovered more than $5,000 in cash, scales and other indicia of drug sales.
J.E.’s death was one of three deaths that occurred in Pacific Beach over Labor Day weekend in 2018, including the individual who sold the fentanyl powder to Kol. Kol is not charged with the other deaths.
“Another life is gone because of fentanyl and the greed of traffickers,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “This dealer knew he was selling a dangerous drug and did it anyway. As the opioid epidemic rages across the nation, we will do everything we can to save lives, and that includes pursuing charges against dealers of the poison that is killing people every single day in this country.”
“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. “A message to the dealers of death: DEA will find out who you are and we will bring you to justice. You cannot cover up your crimes and you will pay for taking the life of another human being.”
Kol is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2020 before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller.
This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and multiple law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs that result in overdose deaths.
Many opioid addicts start their addiction with legitimate prescription drugs. Drug cartels, looking to capitalize on the opioid epidemic, are making counterfeit prescription pills using deadly fentanyl.
Fentanyl-related deaths are rapidly climbing to unprecedented levels. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office reports there have been 89 cases of fentanyl-related deaths so far in 2019, with almost three months left in the year.
Should this trend continue for the remainder of 2019, the death toll could potentially reach 120, which would amount to a 33 percent increase over last year’s total of 90 deaths, and a staggering 700 percent hike over five years ago when there were 15.
In July 2018, Narcotics Task Force Team 10 was created to address drug overdose deaths in San Diego County. Team 10 led the investigation into the cluster of fentanyl drug overdoses in Pacific Beach in September 2018. The victim was 47 years old and he left behind his wife.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 19cr1277-JM
Maya Kol Age: 41 Pacific Beach, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841(a)(1)
Maximum Penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment
Drug Enforcement Administration
San Diego Police Department
Homeland Security Investigations
California Department of Health Care Services
Federal Bureau of Investigation
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office