Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A documented gang member jailed and facing a possible life sentence for allegedly furnishing a 25-year-old La Mesa woman with a fentanyl dose that claimed her life declined Wednesday to seek pretrial release.

During a hearing in San Diego federal court Wednesday morning, 28-year-old Uriah Odish of Lakeside waived bond proceedings, electing to remain in custody as his case moves forward.

The victim, identified in court documents only as “T.H.,” was found dead in her East County home in January.

Odish, who was indicted by a federal grand jury, is the fourth person since January to be charged in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California with distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.

“There is a raging opioid epidemic in this country, and we want dealers to be on notice — every time we have an overdose death, we are going to come looking for you,” said San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.

Due to a prior felony drug offense on his record, Odish could face a mandatory sentence of life in prison in connection with the woman’s death, according to prosecutors. His next court hearing is scheduled for May 4.

In 2016, some 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, the highest annual drug-fatality number and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

The grim trend is being driven primarily by opioids — prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic drugs like fentanyl, law enforcement officials report. For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death, government research shows.

–City News Service