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Two California men indicted for overdoses of two Virginia teens

andrew gaddis
Amdrew Gaddis with Narcan nasal spray, which reverses the fatal effects of an opioid overdose.

A federal grand jury indicted two California men July 19 in Abingdon, Va. for supplying fentanyl linked to teen overdoses in Wise County, Va.

Alexander Ortiz, 25, and Jorge Efrain Perez Jr., 24, were each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, according to a press release. Ortiz is also charged with one count of possessing a firearm in the commission of a drug trafficking crime. They face a mandatory 20 years in prison.

As a result of Ortiz and Perez’s alleged criminal behavior, two teenagers in Wise County overdosed on fentanyl.

The press release stated that court documents show the two California men provided fentanyl to more than three teenagers in southwest Virginia. Between Nov. 1, 2020 and June 20, 2022, the government alleges that Ortiz sold thousands of pressed pills containing fentanyl to teenagers. One of the teenagers ordered the pills on social media platforms Snapchat and Instagram, and made purchases from Ortiz every few weeks. Ortiz mailed the pills to the teenager at his house in Bridge Stone Gap. Then the teenager distributed the pills to others in Wise County. Perez assisted Ortiz in mailing the packages from California to Virginia and other buyers throughout the United States.

In late November 2021, after the teenager sold three pressed pills to two other teens, a 17-year-old girl was hospitalized with a drug overdose. Police found half of a pressed pill at the scene of the overdose, which tested positive for fentanyl. Later that night, an 18-year-old man was also hospitalized with a drug overdose after buying pressed pills containing fentanyl.

Search warrants of Ortiz’s two houses in California resulted in confiscation of more than 6,000 pressed pills containing fentanyl, approximately $60,000 in cash and 13 firearms.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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