Pacific Beach man sentenced to 15 years in fentanyl death
Three people fatally overdosed on the same batch of powder fentanyl marketed as cocaine over Labor Day weekend in 2018
After Maya Kol dipped his finger into the ounce-bag of white powder he’d just bought, he noticed that it didn’t taste like cocaine or numb his mouth the way it was supposed to.
Soon after, he grew nauseous and so woozy he almost lost his balance.
Still, the next morning, he answered a neighbor’s request for cocaine, prosecutors said. He sold a half-gram of the powder to three people. One ended up dead and two others were hospitalized from ingesting fentanyl.
Two more people died that Labor Day weekend in 2018 after sampling the same batch, including the man who had sold Kol the powder.
On Friday — nearly three years later — a San Diego federal judge sentenced Kol, 42, to 15 years in prison for distribution of fentanyl. The prosecution is among several in recent years targeting dealers who are linked to fentanyl overdose deaths as the street market becomes increasingly saturated with the potent synthetic opioid.
“Many people are dying because of dealers like Kol, who know the extreme danger of what they are doing but do it anyway,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman.
According to court documents filed in anticipation of his sentencing hearing, Kol’s wife also tasted the powder, which they initially believed to be cocaine, and became ill.
The next day, after Kol sold some of the drug to his neighbors, he got a message from a woman saying her other two companions were “completely out of it” after all three of them had done lines.
Kol and his wife went to their apartment and apparently attempted to revive the men, prosecutors said. After learning someone had called 911 for medical aid, Kol and his wife went back to their own unit, where Kol flushed the remainder of the drug down the toilet.
One of the men, identified only by the initials J.E., 47, died from an overdose. The other man was revived by Narcan, a medicine that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose. The woman who had summoned Kol was also hospitalized to treat lingering effects of taking the drug, authorities said.
The bodies of two others, including the person who sold the powder to Kol, were found a few days later in a Pacific Beach home. The overdose cluster led authorities to issue a public safety warning days later about fentanyl-laced cocaine in the community.
When investigators searched Kol’s apartment, they found cocaine, ecstasy and butane honey oil, according to prosecutors.
Kol’s defense attorney argued that Kol had no idea that he was distributing fentanyl and had attributed his adverse reaction to a virus, not the effects from what he thought was cocaine.
Kol, a Cambodian national who came to the U.S. as a toddler, will likely be deported following his prison sentence because he is not a U.S. citizen, according to court records.