MIL-OSI Security: San Diego Drug Dealer Sentenced to Eight Years in Fatal Fentanyl Overdose

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Source: Office of United States Attorneys

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY—February 5, 2024

SAN DIEGO— Derek Neal Turfler of San Diego was sentenced in federal court today to 97 months in prison for his role in selling fentanyl pills to a 27-year-old woman who fatally overdosed on May 9, 2022.

According to his plea agreement, Turfler arranged a meeting to deliver fentanyl to the victim, Faithe Sioban Thogode, who died later that morning after using the fentanyl he provided. According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, the defendant was addicted to fentanyl, knew how deadly the drug was, and knew the consequences for selling the drug and causing another’s death, yet he sold her the drug anyway. 

Turfler also knew that the victim worked at a drug and alcohol treatment center, had just celebrated five years of sobriety, and was going through a drug relapse when he sold her the deadly pills. 

According to the sentencing memo, this was not the first time the defendant had seriously hurt someone due to fentanyl. In 2019, he was convicted in California state court of driving under the influence of fentanyl and causing great bodily harm and was on formal probation for that felony conviction at the time he sold the deadly pills to Thogode.

“Faithe Thogode is not a statistic. She was a loving daughter and a devoted friend to dozens of people who appeared in court today to show their lasting appreciation for her infectious laugh and kind heart,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to our partnership with the DEA and the Overdose Response Team to hold accountable dealers—like this defendant—who deliver a fatal overdose.”

“Fentanyl kills and those who sell this lethal drug must be brought to justice,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Paul Abosamra.

Special Agents and Task Force Officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Overdose Response Team (formerly known as Team 10) led the investigation into Thogode’s death. This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the San Diego Police Department and the California Department of Health Care Services to investigate and prosecute the distribution of illegal drugs—fentanyl in particular—that results in overdose deaths.  The Drug Enforcement Administration created the Overdose Response Team as a response to the increase in overdose deaths in San Diego County.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick C. Swan.

DEFENDANT                                   Case Number: 23-cr-175-LL

Derek Neal Turfler                             Age: 29                                   San Diego, CA

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Fentanyl – Title 18, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison

AGENCIES

Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego Police Department

State of California Department of Health Care Services

MIL Security OSI