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Southwest Virginia: Man who supplied fentanyl in two teen overdoses to serve 17 years

Crystal Graham

A California man who supplied the fentanyl linked to teenage overdoses that occurred in Wise County was sentenced Wednesday to 17 years in federal prison.

Alexander Ortiz, 26, a.k.a. “LoLife,” of Fullerton, Calif., pleaded guilty in January 2023 to one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, Ortiz and his co-conspirators, Jorge Efrain Perez and Destiny Raeann Perez, were the suppliers of fentanyl for Paul Mason Perkins, Aaron Stidham, Austin Jeremiah Lane, Cheyenne Cassie Carico and others, all of Southwest Virginia.

Between November 2020 and June 2022, Ortiz sold thousands of pressed pills containing fentanyl to Perkins and others.

Ortiz sold 1,000 pills at a time to Perkins using the social media platforms Snapchat and Instagram, making sales to Perkins every few weeks.

Ortiz had the pills mailed to Perkins at his residence in Big Stone Gap. Perkins then distributed the pills to other individuals in Wise County, including multiple sales to co-conspirators Lane and Carico.

Jorge Perez and Destiny Perez assisted Ortiz in mailing the illicit packages from California to Virginia, as well as other locations throughout the country.

On Nov. 24, 2021, Perkins sold Carico and Lane three pressed pills. Lane and Carico had purchased two of the pills for a 17-year-old female the two knew from school.

Later that night, the 17-year-old female was hospitalized due to a drug overdose.

The same night, an 18-year-old male who had purchased pressed pills containing fentanyl from Perkins, was also hospitalized due to a drug overdose.

Further investigation revealed that pills from both overdoses were linked to Ortiz.

Search warrants executed at Ortiz’s residences in Los Banos and Santa Ana, Calif., resulted in the recovery of more than 6,000 pressed pills containing fentanyl, approximately $60,000 cash and 13 firearms.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.