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Press Release

Pacific Beach Resident Sentenced to 15 Years for Distributing Fentanyl that Caused Two Overdoses, One of Them Fatal

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

Assistant U. S. Attorney Michael A. Deshong (619) 546-9290  


SAN DIEGO – Pacific Beach resident Maya Kol was sentenced in federal court today to 15 years in prison for selling fentanyl powder that caused the death of one man and sent another to the hospital over Labor Day weekend in September 2018. Two other men—including the source of Kol’s fentanyl—also fatally overdosed that weekend from the same batch of fentanyl powder, which was misrepresented as cocaine when it was sold to users, including the victims.

Kol, a Cambodian national living illegally in San Diego, previously admitted that he purchased the fentanyl powder believing it to be cocaine.  However, after he sampled the powder he noticed it tasted different and then became woozy and nearly lost his balance from the effects of it. Despite his own troubling experience with the powder, Kol sold the powder to others and told them it was cocaine. 

According to his plea agreement, on September 7, 2018, Kol met three individuals, identified in court records as J.E., J.H., and L.S., and delivered to them one-half gram of fentanyl powder which he represented as cocaine.  Several hours later, L.S. contacted Kol asking for help.  Kol arrived to L.S. and J.H.’s apartment and foundJ.E. and J.H. non-responsive.  When Kol realized authorities would be coming to the scene, he went back to his home and flushed his remaining fentanyl powder down the toilet. 

J.E. died from the fentanyl powder Kol sold to him. J.H. survived the ordeal after first responders administered Narcan, a drug prescribed to treat an opioid overdose in an emergency situation, and rushed him to the hospital.  L.S. was admitted to the hospital the following day for lingering symptoms.  A subsequent search of Kol’s residence uncovered more than $5,000 in cash, scales, materials for operating a butane honey oil laboratory, and other indications of drug sales.

J.E. was 47 years old and is survived by his wife.  Hiss death was one of three overdose deaths that occurred in Pacific Beach over Labor Day weekend in 2018, including the individual who sold the fentanyl powder to Kol. Kol is not charged with the other deaths.    

“Many people are dying because of dealers like Kol, who know the extreme danger of what they are doing but do it anyway,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Dealers do not care about their customers. They care about money. As this case tragically shows, illegal drugs laced with fentanyl are deadly.” Grossman praised prosecutor Michael Deshong and law enforcement partners for their excellent work on this case.    

“The DEA is increasingly seeing fentanyl in drugs purported to be other street drugs, such as cocaine in this case, and these drugs are likely to cause you to overdose,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery.  “We don’t want to investigate your death.  Your life matters.  Help with addiction is available by calling the San Diego County’s Access and Crisis line at (888) 724-7240.”

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and multiple law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs that result in overdose deaths.

Fentanyl-related deaths are rapidly climbing to unprecedented levels. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office has predicted a 50 percent increase in deaths from 2020 to 2021. Fentanyl-related deaths more than doubled during the previous two years.

In July 2018, Narcotics Task Force Team 10 was created to address drug overdose deaths in San Diego County.  Team 10 led the investigation into the cluster of fentanyl drug overdoses in Pacific Beach in September 2018. 

DEFENDANTS                                             Case Number 19cr1277-CAB   

Maya Kol                                                        Age: 42                       Pacific Beach, CA


Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum Penalty: Twenty years in prison


Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego Police Department

Homeland Security Investigations

California Department of Health Care Services

Federal Bureau of Investigation

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office


Updated June 25, 2021

Press Release Number: CAS21-0625-Kol