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Press Release

Dubuque Man Who Sold Opioids that Caused Three Deaths Sentenced to 35 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A man who sold three deadly doses of opioids in April and May of 2019 was sentenced today to 35 years in federal prison.

Travis Gordon Jones, age 40, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after a July 29, 2020 guilty plea to one count of conspiring to distribute controlled substances resulting in death.

At the plea hearing, Jones admitted that he conspired with others to distribute the opioids in Dubuque in April and May 2019.  Jones also admitted that he personally sold mixtures of heroin, fentanyl, and a synthetic opioid called valeryl fentanyl that were used by three individuals who then died of overdoses.  Court records reflect that the first victim died on April 24, 2019.  A heroin customer of Jones’s met with Jones at a bar in Dubuque, after which Jones sold the customer approximately 1.25 grams of a substance that contained heroin, fentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl.  The customer then provided the drugs to the first victim, who took them home, used some of them, and was found dead a few hours later. 

The second victim died on May 20, 2019.  Court records reflect that Julius Irvin was a regular customer of Jones’s, and that he regularly purchased heroin from Jones for himself and others.  On May 19, 2019, Jones sold Irvin some heroin laced with fentanyl and valeryl fentanyl, which Irvin was going to provide to one of his customers.  The customer took some of the substance to a local women’s shelter in Dubuque, where she had been staying.  She used the substance, overdosed, and was found dead by shelter staff the next morning.

The third victim died on May 27, 2019.  Evidence at prior hearings showed that Jackie Birch drove her boyfriend, Mateusz Syryjczyk, and the third victim to Jones’s home in Dubuque during the early morning of May 27, 2019.  Birch and the third victim went into the home, where they purchased what was purported to be heroin from Jones.  The three then drove to a hotel in Dubuque, where they all used the purported heroin.  The third victim began to overdose in the room.  Birch and Syryjczyk did not immediately call 911, but, over the course of multiple hours, Birch would occasionally perform CPR on the third victim to restore some breathing function, though the victim never regained consciousness.  Eventually, Birch and Syryjczyk decided they needed to call 911, and Syryjczyk took the remaining drug paraphernalia from the room to prevent law enforcement from finding it.  The third victim never recovered.

Birch was previously sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment after her guilty plea to aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance.  Syryjczyk was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment after his guilty plea to misprision of a felony.  Irvin was sentenced to 183 months’ imprisonment after his guilty plea to distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death.

Jones was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Jones was sentenced to 420 months’ imprisonment.  He was ordered to make $21,044.60 in restitution to the victims.  He must also serve a six‑year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Jones is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Dubuque Drug Task Force and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-CR-1041-CJW-MAR.

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Updated September 17, 2021

Drug Trafficking