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Press Release

Safety Harbor Man Who Distributed Fentanyl Causing Death To One Individual And Serious Injury To Another Sentenced To 20 Years In Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge William Jung has sentenced David Burkes (52, Safety Harbor) to 20 years’ imprisonment for distributing narcotics, resulting in death to one individual and seriously bodily injury to another.

Burkes had pleaded guilty on April 21, 2021.

According to the plea agreement, beginning on August 12, 2019, Burkes distributed fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl to two individuals (J.B. and B.G.). Both individuals snorted the substance, lost control of the vehicle they had been driving, and overdosed in a parking lot. Medical personnel responded to the scene and successfully revived B.G.  The second individual (J.B.) died.

Between August 13 and 15, 2019, after the fatal overdose, Burkes continued to distribute narcotics, this time to undercover officers. The substances he distributed to the officers tested positive for fentanyl.

On August 25, 2019, Burkes was arrested by deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. The following day, agents executed a federal search warrant on Burke’s residence and car. The agents recovered methamphetamines, fentanyl, cocaine, and items used for packaging and distributing narcotics.

The Medical Examiner’s Office for Pasco and Pinellas Counties determined that the deceased individual’s cause of death was fentanyl toxicity.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diego F. Novaes.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated August 2, 2021