Two Men Charged in Fentanyl Overdose Death
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mikaela Weber (619) 546-9734 or Stephen Wong (619) 546-9464
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 16, 2019
SAN DIEGO – Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged two men with Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in Death. The charges arise out of a 41 year-old woman’s fatal overdose from fentanyl-laced heroin on October 24, 2018.
As detailed in the criminal complaint, on October 24, 2018, officers responded to a 911 call regarding the suspected overdose of a San Diego woman identified in court documents as J.C.G. When officers and paramedics arrived, they attempted CPR without success and pronounced the woman dead. The complaint alleges that the San Diego County Medical Examiner conducted an examination and confirmed that the woman’s cause of death was a fentanyl and heroin overdose.
The case was immediately assigned to a multi-agency task force, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which investigates drug overdose deaths in San Diego County. According to the criminal complaint, within 24 hours of the woman’s death, task force agents and officers traced the fentanyl-laced heroin back to defendant Travis Ray Ballou, who was arrested on October 25, 2018. The complaint alleges that Ballou sold heroin to J.C.G. on three occasions—October 22, 23, and 24. On October 23, J.C.G. overdosed and went to the hospital, where she was revived with Narcan, an opioid blocker used for the rapid reversal of opioid overdose. The following day, on October 24, J.C.G. told Ballou about overdosing the day before and requested additional heroin, which Ballou supplied. That evening, J.C.G. overdosed on heroin and fentanyl and died.
Investigators quickly identified defendant Tony Davis as the person who supplied Ballou with heroin and fentanyl. Among other evidence, the complaint quotes a text message that Ballou sent to Davis on October 24, 2018 informing Davis that one of his (Ballou’s) customers – J.C.G. – had overdosed and had to be revived with Narcan, and telling Davis: “your stuff def has fetnal [sic] in it.” During a court-authorized search of Davis’ residence, law enforcement officers found evidence of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as syringes and payment ledgers.
“As the opioid epidemic continues to rage across the nation, we are committed to doing everything we can to save lives,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “That includes investigating overdose deaths as homicides and pursuing charges against dealers of the poison that is killing people every single day in this country.” According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner, deaths caused by fentanyl analogs more than doubled in San Diego County in 2017, rising from 33 to 84, and the office expects a slight increase in 2018 when pending investigations are finalized.
Task force agents and officers arrested Davis on November 15, 2018. Defendant Tony Davis made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Lopez on January 15, 2019. Defendant Travis Ray Ballou is expected to make his initial appearance sometime next week.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Wong and Mikaela Weber.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 19-mj-0142
Tony Davis Age: 63
Travis Ray Ballou Age 40
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in Death – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841(b)(1)(C)
Maximum penalty: Mandatory minimum 20 years in prison up to life
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
Drug Enforcement Administration
San Diego Police Department
San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office
San Diego District Attorney’s Office
Homeland Security Investigations
Department of Health Care Services
Federal Bureau of Investigation
National City Police Department
*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.