Federal prosecutors filed a case Friday against a San Gabriel woman who officials say sold cocaine believed to be tainted with fentanyl to five men who later overdosed, including two who died, over the course of a single day in Pasadena last week.
Marisol Bolanos Hernandez, 35, of San Gabriel faces a federal count of drug distribution resulting in serious bodily injury, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, at a maximum sentence of life behind bars.
The five overdose victims were among a total of seven that were reported on Sept. 11, which prompted the Pasadena Police Department to launch an investigation into a possible connection between the overdoses.
Of the seven total overdoses reported that day, four of them have died, according to Pasadena Police Department officials.
Test results were pending on the substances involved in the overdoses, but police have suspected since early in the investigation that fentanyl was involved.
Although victims told investigators they thought they were buying cocaine, according to federal prosecutors, police noted that several of them were revived through the use of naloxone anti-overdose spray, which is effective on opioids, but not stimulants such as cocaine.
Pasadena police arrested Hernandez Wednesday, according to prosecutors.
“During an interview, she admitted selling what she believed to be cocaine to three of the overdose victims…on September 11,” U.S. DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
One of the surviving victims, identified in court documents as “A.C.,” was revived with naloxone before telling police he had bought what he believed to be cocaine from someone named “Mari” and shared it with a friend, who was among those who fatally overdosed, according to the DOJ. A.C. stated he immediately lost consciousness after ingesting the drug.
Detectives identified Hernandez as “Mari,” Mrozek said.
“Bolanos sold purported cocaine to two other overdose victims on September 11,” he said. “Both of these victims required hospitalization and survived.”
“Phone records link (Hernandez) to another fatal overdose on September 11,” Mrozek continued.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents took custody of Hernandez on Thursday, officials said.
At her initial appearance Friday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles, Hernandez was ordered detained pending trial, Mrozek said. An arraignment hearing was scheduled for Oct. 23.