San Diego

San Diego Man Sentenced for Selling Fentanyl to 18-Year-Old Before Overdose

Brandon Jacob Shepherd, 26, was arrested after investigators posed as the dead woman and asked him for more drugs

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A San Diego man who sold fentanyl that resulted in an 18-year-old woman's death was sentenced Monday to nearly 14 years in federal prison.

Brandon Jacob Shepherd, 26, pleaded guilty earlier this year to coordinating a sale of the drugs to the woman, identified in court records only as P.E.R.

NBC 7's Mark Mullen spoke to a UC San Diego professor about the fentanyl crisis and why fentanyl is so commonly found in street drugs.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Shepherd and co-defendant Leon Chester Kolin III arranged the sale and smoked fentanyl with P.E.R. in January 2020.

The victim overdosed that night but did not die, though prosecutors allege Shepherd told a friend that the woman nearly "fell out," meaning she had almost died.

The number of fentanyl overdoses is on the rise in San Diego. In hopes of preventing more, the San Diego County District Attorney’s office hosted a Day of Action in National City Saturday. NBC 7's Ramon Galindo reports.

P.E.R. smoked some of the fentanyl resin sold to her days later and this time, overdosed and died, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

According to the prosecution's sentencing memorandum, investigators posed as P.E.R. following her death and arranged to buy more fentanyl from Shepherd. He was arrested at a hotel, where he had been selling drugs out of one of its rooms, the document states.

Kolin was sentenced earlier this year to nearly three years in prison, while two other defendants, described by prosecutors as "engaged in an ongoing fentanyl distribution scheme" with Shepherd, have also been sentenced.

"Tragically, fentanyl has again cut down the life of a bright and promising future here in our community, whose loss will forever be felt by her family," acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said.

Family members say the victim faced a traumatizing childhood and that pain stayed with her as she became an adult.

"I could see the happiness but the pain never went away for her," the victim's aunt said.

She said her niece put a lot of pressure on herself to get good grades and give herself a better life than what she came from.

"If she got a B in school she would cry," her aunt said.

Her aunt says she and her family are hurting, and so is the rest of the world for losing what her niece had.

"[They'll miss] her intelligence, her charisma, her gift of gab, her wonderfulness. She was so amazing. She made you laugh, made you cry. She was so intense. She was a wonderful person. Her drive to succeed was so amazing."

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