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Press Release

Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty to Selling Fatal Fentanyl

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

The drug dealer who sold the fentanyl that killed an Abilene man pleaded guilty this week to a federal drug crime, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton. 

Elijah James Perez, 21, was indicted in September 2022. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.

“Fentanyl has shattered far too many lives. And far too often, users don’t understand that the pills they’re ingesting are laced with this deadly drug. Let this case be a warning to drug dealers throughout Texas: If you sell the fentanyl that causes an overdose death, we will hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton

According to court documents, Mr. Perez admits that he sold fentanyl to a victim, identified in court documents as J.W., on Feb. 11, 2022.

The following day, J.W. was found nonresponsive on his bed. After 40 minutes of attempted resuscitation, he was pronounced dead on scene.

Witnesses told law enforcement they believed J.W. had ingested Percocet, but an autopsy found that J.W. died from the toxic effects of fentanyl.

According to plea papers, Mr. Perez admits that approximately three days before J.W.’s death, Mr. Perez offered to sell him “5 percs.” Three days later, Mr. Perez met with J.W. outside his home around 10 p.m. to make the sale. The pills were laced with fentanyl.

Six minutes later, J.W. texted his girlfriend that he’d received some “percs” that were “hella strong.” Hours later, he was dead of an overdose.

“The consequences of trafficking drugs is real. The deadly effects of fentanyl have claimed the lives of two people: one who we will never get back and another who will spend years in prison as a result.  Families are forever changed.  The DEA will continue to investigate these crimes with a relentless pursuit of justice and accountability for the criminal organizations that distribute these deadly drugs.”

DEA Dallas Field Division Special Agent in Charge, Eduardo A. Chávez 

If the federal district judge accepts his plea of guilty, Mr. Perez faces a mandatory minimum sentence that includes 20 years in federal prison.  A sentencing date has not yet  been set.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Office and the Abilene Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Tusing is prosecuting the case.


Erin Dooley
Press Officer

Updated January 20, 2023

Drug Trafficking