Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A Chula Vista man was sentenced Monday to a 10-year federal prison term for distributing fentanyl that led to the non-fatal overdoses of five people in Alpine.

Federal prosecutors say Joel Rodriguez, 30, obtained fentanyl in Mexico and delivered the drugs across the border for distribution in San Diego, leading to the accidental overdoses of five people on Dec. 7, 2017. Prosecutors said the victims, who believed they were using cocaine, were hospitalized as a result of their drug use.

“Buyer beware! These people thought they were using cocaine, not deadly fentanyl,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. “This is a strong sentence for a dealer who came close to pushing his unwitting customers to the point of no return.”

Rodriguez was arrested “within days of the non-fatal overdoses,” prosecutors said.

Investigators discovered cocaine and fentanyl at his home, along with scales, cutting agents and documents detailing drug deliveries and payments.

Rodriguez was also convicted for transporting cocaine from San Diego County to Riverside County in May 2017.

“Mr. Rodriguez made the decision to risk the lives of others to make a quick buck,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers said. “Five people almost lost their lives from the drugs provided by Mr. Rodriguez and countless others were impacted by his decision to traffic cocaine.”

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.