Defendant Enters Guilty Plea Admitting to Delivery of Heroin Resulting in Death of 21 Year Old Salem Woman
PORTLAND, Ore. - Sergio Quezada-Lopez, 35, of Mexico, appeared on Monday, August 25, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Michael Simon and entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin in quantities of 1 kilogram or more that resulted in death. The maximum sentence is life and the charge carries a mandatory minimum 20 years imprisonment. The defendant is scheduled to appear for sentencing on December 1, 2014.
The investigation began on April 16, 2012 when police officers responded to the Keizer, Oregon residence of 21 year old Laurin Putnam, who was found deceased. The initial investigation indicated that her death was likely caused by a heroin overdose and later confirmed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office. Soon after her death, investigators learned the identity of the last person in the chain that was responsible for distributing the heroin to Putnam that caused her death. From there, investigators were able to identify several conspirators and move six levels up the chain of distribution to Sergio Quezada-Lopez. During the investigation, agents learned that Sergio Quezada-Lopez was a high level member of a large scale conspiracy involving the distribution of significant quantities of heroin in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado.
Quezada-Lopez’s role in the conspiracy involved his taking over and operating a network of stash houses in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. He would receive orders for heroin and then direct it’s delivery to customers. Co-conspirators collected cash payments and then transferred the money to Quezada-Lopez. During searches of stash houses, agents seized over four pounds of heroin, additional quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, drug ledgers, identification documents, packaging materials, two guns, and over $20,000 in US Currency. In one of the stash houses, Quezada-Lopez’ fingerprints were found on a drug ledger along with an identification document bearing his photograph. Soon thereafter, agents were able to listen to a telephone conversation between Quezada-Lopez and a co-conspirator where Quezada-Lopez described an amount of heroin that should be delivered. He was arrested on April 20, 2012, less than a week after Ms. Putnam’s death.
The investigation of the case was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) through its Salem DEA Drug Task Force, and the Keizer Police Department with assistance from the Salem Police Department; the Marion County Sheriff's Office; the Oregon State Police; the Washington County Interagency Narcotics Team (WIN); the Portland Police Bureau; the Oregon State Medical Examiner; the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force; the Oregon Department of Justice; and, the Portland based Highway Interdiction Team.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kemp Strickland and Kathleen Bickers.