Woman facing 20 years to life in prison for selling drugs that resulted in string of overdoses across Pasadena: DOJ

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A pile of cocaine appears in an undated photo from Getty Images.

A pile of cocaine appears in an undated photo from Getty Images.

A San Gabriel woman suspected of selling drugs to several people in Pasadena who overdosed, some of them fatally, was charged Friday, officials said.

Marisol Bolanos Hernandez, 35, admitted to selling what she believed was cocaine to three overdose victims, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a news release. She was charged with one count of drug distribution resulting in serious bodily injury.

The woman allegedly sold the drug to a man and his friend, both of whom were found unresponsive on Sept. 11 and taken to a hospital, where one of them died two days later.

The man who survived had been given Narcan and he responded to it — a sign that he had possibly taken opioids, officials said. His urine samples were also positive for cocaine.

He told police he had bought cocaine from a someone named “Mari” and shared it with his friend who died, officials said. The men had lost consciousness after taking the drug.

Investigators identified Bolanos Hernandez as the seller.

Pasadena Police Department officers seized “white powder residue” from the scene of the overdoses, but it had yet to be tested Friday, according to the Department of Justice.

Investigators also linked Bolanos Hernandez to three other other people who overdosed that same day — two of whom were hospitalized but survived and the third died.

The surviving victims all identified the same phone number for the person who sold them what they thought was cocaine. The number was traced to Bolanos Hernandez and phone records also tied her to the fatal overdose, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Police arrested Bolanos Hernandez Wednesday and she was transferred into federal custody the next day by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

She could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, according to the Department of Justice.

On Sept. 12, Pasadena police reported that they had responded to seven different victims of apparent drug overdoses within just the preceding 24 hours, adding that all appeared to have ingested opiates.

The overdoses, at least two of which were fatal, raised alarms, with police saying that opium-related deaths are not common in the city and that they’re “extremely concerned.”

California has the fifth highest number of drug overdose death rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state reported 5,348 overdose deaths in 2018.

The vast majority of drug overdose deaths in L.A. County have been accidental, according to data from the coroner’s office shared by the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

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