Chula Vista Man Sentenced for Distributing Fentanyl-Laced Pills that Caused Overdose Death of 20-Year-Old – Department of Justice
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jennifer E. McCollough (619) 546-8773
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 29, 2022
SAN DIEGO –Jonathan Mefford was sentenced in federal court today to 190 months in prison for selling fentanyl-laced pills that caused the death of a 20-year-old Chula Vista man, identified in court records as J.P., in October of 2018, and for distributing multi-pound level quantities of methamphetamine in Kansas.
Mefford previously admitted that he sold the pills to J.P. on October 29, 2018, and that he knew these pills contained fentanyl. Mefford additionally admitted that J.P.’s overdose and death was caused by the fentanyl-laced pills that J.P. purchased from Mefford. Finally, Mefford admitted that he transported multi-pound level quantities of methamphetamine from San Diego to Kansas. Once in Kansas, Mefford distributed the methamphetamine to various individuals.
Detectives from the Chula Vista Narcotics Enforcement Team in concert with Special Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security led the investigation into J.P.’s death and quickly identified Mefford as the source of the fatal pills. According to the sentencing memorandum, Mefford offered counterfeit prescription pills for sale through social media platforms and sold up to 500 pills. The sale of those pills not only led to the death of J.P., but another overdose where the victim fortunately survived. Notably, Mefford continued selling counterfeit pills for months following both overdoses.
“The epidemic of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills continues to claim lives in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “To be clear: If you are a drug dealer selling pills, and those pills result in death, you will be held accountable for that death.” Grossman praised the prosecution team as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotics Task Force Team 10 and officials from the Chula Vista Narcotics Enforcement Team for their excellent work on this case.
“Today’s sentencing of Jonathan Mefford serves as a warning to anyone selling fentanyl-laced pills that there will be severe consequences if the pills you sell cause a death,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “One pill can kill. One pill can devastate a family. And one pill that causes a death can send you to prison for 15 years. DEA has resources available about the One Pill Can Kill campaign at www.dea.gov/onepill.”
“This 15-year sentence highlights the success of HSI’s collaborative efforts with our federal and local law enforcement partners in combating the opioid epidemic here and across the country,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego. “HSI is committed to holding those accountable who recklessly push this poison into our communities.”
“This case serves as a great example of why the Chula Vista Police Department works with our partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, by bringing law enforcement agencies together, to hold drug dealers accountable and help keep dangerous drugs like fentanyl out of our community,” said Chula Vista Police Department Chief Roxana Kennedy. “This investigation sends a strong message to drug dealers operating in Chula Vista and provides some measure of justice for the victim and his family.”
This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate and prosecute the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs—fentanyl in particular—that result in overdose deaths. The Drug Enforcement Administration created Narcotics Task Force Team 10 as a response to the increase in overdose deaths in San Diego County. Agents from Team 10 contributed to the investigation into J.P.’s death
DEFENDANTS Case Number 20cr253-CAB
Michael Mefford Age: 24 Chula Vista, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841(a)
Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 841(a) and 846
Maximum penalty: Life in prison; $10 million fine
Homeland Security Investigations
Drug Enforcement Administration
Chula Vista Police Department
Learn about victim notification and rights, witness information, and helpful resources.
Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.