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Press Release

Dealer Admits Selling Deadly Fentanyl Laced Pills

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Sherri Walker Hobson (619) 546-6986    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 16, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Christopher James Stracuzzi entered a guilty plea in federal court today, admitting that he  distributed fentanyl that resulted in the death of a San Diego man.  Stracuzzi will be sentenced on December 2, 2019 at 9 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan.

According to court documents, on July 18, 2018, at approximately 8:43 p.m., the San Diego Police Department received a 911 call about an unconscious male passed out on the floor in his apartment.  His roommate attempted to perform CPR even though she was groggy from have taken a pill herself.   Paramedics arrived on scene and unsuccessfully attempted resuscitation.  The man was pronounced dead at 9:12 p.m.

The roommate of the deceased man told investigators that Stracuzzi sold the deceased 12 tablets that the deceased believed to be oxycodone pills.  Both the roommate and the deceased man took a pill. After learning from the Medical Examiner's Office that her roommate died of a fentanyl overdose, the roommate suspected that the pills they had taken that fateful night were not oxycodone, but were in fact, counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. When the DEA Southwest Regional Laboratory, tested the remaining 10 tablets, chemists determined they contained fentany1. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, San Diego Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and California State Department of Health Care Services, along with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, are part of a team that investigates and prosecutes fatal overdose cases.      

“Dealers beware: You will be held responsible for the deaths of your customers,” said U.S. Attorney Robert “But we can’t reverse the tragedy of the shattered lives of the victims and their families. I cannot say this any more strongly or directly: Don’t take these black market pills. You may pay the ultimate price for this terrible mistake.”

“Tragic cases of overdose deaths caused by fentanyl will leave scars on families in our communities for decades to come,” said HSI San Diego SAC Dave Shaw. “HSI is committed to working with our partners to remove this scourge from our streets. We urge everyone to take the time to learn about these deadly drugs and take the steps necessary to protect their families and loved ones.”

“We are living in a world where drug cartels are getting rich from making counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and we are paying a heavy price, in blood,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.  “There is no quality control or FDA oversight.  If you didn’t get that pill directly from a pharmacy with a prescription in your name, you won’t be able to tell if the pill is real or counterfeit.  Even the experts can’t tell until it is examined in a laboratory.  When you crush or swallow that blue pill that looks like a 30 mg oxycodone tablet, you are risking your life. I’ll say it again, your dealer, BFF, lover, or classmate may become your murderer and the medical examiner your personal physician.  Life is precious. Don’t gamble yours away for a quick high that sends you home from the party in a body bag.”

These case is  being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 19CR0368W

Christopher James Stracuzzi                                                               San Diego


Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a) & 841(b)(1)(C) Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in Death

Title 18 U.S.C. § 2 Aiding and Abetting

Maximum penalty:  Life in custody, with a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years


Drug Enforcement Administration

Homeland Security Investigations

San Diego Sheriff’s Office

San Diego Police Department

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Department of Health Care Services


Updated September 16, 2019

Release Number: CAS19-0916-Stracuzzi