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Press Release

San Diego Resident Sentenced to Nearly 14 Years for Distributing Fentanyl that Resulted in 18-Year-Old’s Death

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

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Owen Roth and Lawrence A. Casper (619) 546-7710

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY—November 22, 2021

SAN DIEGO—San Diego resident Brandon Jacob Shepherd was sentenced in federal court today to thirteen years and eleven months in prison for selling fentanyl that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old San Diego woman, identified in court records as P.E.R., in January of 2020. He received one month of custodial credit for time served in a local facility before being transferred to federal custody, for a total period of 168 months in custody.

Shepherd previously admitted that on the evening of January 14, 2020, he agreed to coordinate a sale of fentanyl to the victim with co-defendant Leon Chester Kolin III. That evening, Shepherd sold P.E.R. and Kolin a gram of fentanyl for $100 or $120, in the hotel room that Shepherd was staying in and using to distribute fentanyl. After the sale, Shepherd smoked fentanyl with P.E.R. and Kolin; P.E.R. overdosed at that time, but did not die. Kolin took P.E.R. home, with additional fentanyl resin that Shepherd provided. After P.E.R. left, Shepherd told a friend that she nearly “fell out,” meaning she had almost died. Days later, P.E.R. smoked some of the fentanyl resin provided by Shepherd, overdosing and dying. She was only eighteen years old at the time of her death.

Special Agents and Task Force Officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation into P.E.R.’s death and identified Shepherd as the source of the fentanyl. Investigators subsequently searched Shepherd’s hotel room. There, they found packages containing fentanyl powder, counterfeit blue “M30” pharmaceutical tablets laced with fentanyl, digital scales bearing fentanyl residue, cash, and unused plastic baggies. They also found and arrested co-defendants Anthony Gascon and Christopher Barksdale, with whom Shepherd was engaged in an ongoing fentanyl distribution scheme. These two defendants, as well as Kolin, were sentenced prior to today.

 “Tragically, fentanyl has again cut down the life of a bright and promising future here in our community, whose loss will forever be felt by her family,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This Office will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute anyone who seeks to profit, or even to further their own addiction, by peddling this poison. If someone dies from fentanyl you provide them, we will use every tool at our disposal to hold you responsible.” Grossman praised prosecutors Owen Roth and Lawrence Casper as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotics Task Force Team 10 and officials from partnering state and federal agencies for their excellent work on this case.

“The United States just recorded the highest number of drug-overdose deaths in a 12-month period, with over 100,000 Americans losing their lives,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “Individuals like Brandon Shepherd are fueling the fire of the drug epidemic. His sentencing today sends a stark reminder that if you choose to sell drugs and risk the lives of others, you will be held accountable.”

“Removing these dangerous and often deadly drugs from the streets is a priority for HSI, as it’s critical to preventing additional overdose deaths in our communities,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego. “I am extremely proud of our HSI Special Agents and law enforcement partners for the success of this investigation and for making our neighborhoods safer.”

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the San Diego Police Department, and the California Department of Health Care Services to investigate and prosecute the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs—fentanyl in particular—that result in overdose deaths. The Drug Enforcement Administration created Narcotics Task Force Team 10 as a response to the increase in overdose deaths in San Diego County. Agents from Team 10 contributed to the investigation into P.E.R.’s death.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 20-CR-810-BAS                                            

Brandon Jacob Shepherd                    Age: 26                       San Diego, CA


Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl – Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a) and (b)(1)(C)

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison

Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison

Conspiracy to Distribute 40 grams or More of Fentanyl – Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a) & (b)(1)(B)

Minimum penalty of 5 years and maximum penalty of 40 years in prison


Drug Enforcement Administration

Homeland Security Investigations

Federal Bureau of Investigation

San Diego Police Department

California Department of Health Care Services

Updated November 23, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Release Number: CAS21-1122-Shepherd