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Press Release

SnapChat Sale of Fentanyl-Laced Pills Leads to Teenage Overdose Death and Guilty Plea

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia

HARRISONBURG, Va. – Abdallah Amer Ali, 21, of Harrisonburg, sold a fatal dose of fentanyl to a 16-year-old in Harrisonburg and pled guilty to one count of distributing a measurable quantity of fentanyl which resulted in death. 

“We have seen a record number of overdose deaths in the last year both here in Virginia and across the country,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “My Office will continue to approach this epidemic with strength and compassion by holding accountable those who cause overdose deaths, raising awareness about the dangers of these lethal substances, and providing support to individuals in recovery.  A comprehensive solution is the only way forward.”

“With overdose deaths on a rampant rise across the country, we often focus on numbers, but today’s announcement is an important reminder that these numbers are much more than that – these are our children, loved ones, and our friends. Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl are a huge problem, affecting every culture, race, and age in our local communities.  It only takes one pill to kill. And we’re working hard, along with our partners, on cases like this to help stop this fentanyl crisis and keep our families safer from such tragic outcomes,” Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Division said.

In October 2019, using the messaging app SnapChat, Ali arranged to sell what the teenage victim believed were Percocet pills, also known as “percs.”  Although he advised the teenager to not ingest all of them at once, Ali stopped short of letting him know that the pills also contained the lethal opioid, fentanyl.  Unaware that his pills were fentanyl-laced, the teenager ingested the pills, overdosed, and died early the next morning.

Ali is scheduled to be sentenced on September 13, 2022 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Division, the Harrisonburg Police Department, and the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Bassford and Jonathan Jones are prosecuting the case. 

Updated June 7, 2022