Delaware man in­dicted for drug over­dose death

A New Gar­den woman died from drugs al­legedly sold by Donte Ja­cobs

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

In a first, a Delaware man has been in­dicted by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties there in the drug-re­lated death of a New Gar­den woman who over­dosed on fen­tanyl this sum­mer.

Al­though charges of drug de­liv­ery re­sult­ing in death have been pur­sued in the past by Ch­ester County au­thor­i­ties and by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties in Philadel­phia, a state­ment is­sued con­cern­ing the ar­rest con­firmed that it was the first time the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in Delaware had filed such charges.

“The num­ber of deaths re­lated to the dis­tri­bu­tion of heroin laced with fen­tanyl has reached epi­demic-like num­bers,” said U.S. At­tor­ney Charles M. Oberly III. “Those re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing this poi­son to those ad­dicted to heroin can, where the ev­i­dence ex­ists, ex­pect to face in­dict­ment like this.”

The in­dict­ment was filed against Donte Ja­cobs, 28, of New Cas­tle, Delaware, on Oct. 13 for con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute heroin and fen­tanyl that re­sulted in the death of another per­son.

Ac­cord­ing to Oberly’s re­lease, Ja­cobs faces a min­i­mum manda-

tory sen­tence of 20 years in prison, a max­i­mum sen­tence of a life­time in prison, a fine of $5 mil­lion and a min­i­mum of three years of su­per­vised re­lease fol­low­ing a prison sen­tence if con­victed. Ja­cobs was also in­dicted for the il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a .40 cal­iber semi-au­to­matic Smith & Wes­son hand­gun, for which he faces an ad­di­tional max­i­mum penalty of ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of su­per­vised re­lease.

The case will be pros­e­cuted by Spe­cial As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Christo­pher L. de Barrena-Sarobe, a for­mer Ch­ester County pros­e­cu­tor with the District At­tor­ney’s Drug Unit. The case was in­ves­ti­gated by Spe­cial Agent Robert Alex Johnson with the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion and New Gar­den De­tec­tive Sgt. Keith Cow­dright.

Ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed against Ja­cobs, the case be­gan when Cow­dright was called to a home in New Gar­den to in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­ble drug over­dose death of a woman, iden­ti­fied in the com­plaint by her ini­tials, T. A., on June 29.

T. A. was found in a bed­room of the house she shared with her boyfriend, sit­ting next to the bed with a tourni­quet on her arm, a nee­dle on the floor next to her, and two empty bag­gies con­tain­ing sus­pected heroin la­belled “But­ter.” Cow­dright also found four ad­di­tional “bun­dles” con­tain­ing sus­pected heroin, with about 52 in­di­vid­ual bag­gies.

When the pow­der in the bag­gies was tested, it proved to be fen­tanyl, not heroin. Fen­tanyl is a drug used to punch up the ef­fects of heroin, but is of­ten fa­tal.

When Cow­dright in­ter­viewed T. A.’s boyfriend, he said she was a reg­u­lar heroin user but that he was not and had been try­ing to get her to stop us­ing the drug for some time. He said she pur­chased her heroin from a man in Delaware. Cow­dright con­tacted Johnson, and the day af­ter T. A.’s death by over­dose they had her boyfriend send a mes­sage to the drug dealer, who was not named in the in­dict­ment be­cause he co­op­er­ated with au­thor­i­ties.

The mes­sage said that T. A. was sick and needed more heroin like that she had bought from the dealer ear­lier. The two ar­ranged to meet at the Chris­tiana Mall in Delaware. When the dealer gave the boyfriend 65 bag­gies of heroin in ex­change for $320, he was ar­rested. In­ter­viewed, the dealer iden­ti­fied Ja­cobs as his source of heroin, and of the drugs that had killed T. A., say­ing that he would buy a large amount of heroin from him each week and then sell it to var­i­ous users. The po­lice set up a sting for the dealer to con­tact Ja­cob and ask him about the “But­ter” heroin bags. When the dealer con­tacted him, he told Ja­cobs that one of his cus­tomers had “checked on that,” mean­ing that she had died from us­ing the drug. When Ja­cobs tried to as­sure the dealer that his drugs were safe, the dealer said that the per­son who died was “one of my peo­ple.”

Ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint, Ja­cobs then asked if the vic­tim “was a big spen­der.” The dealer re­spon­der that she was. “Damn,” Ja­cobs said.

Al­though the au­thor­i­ties tried to ar­range a su­per­vised drug buy be­tween the dealer and Ja­cobs, they were un­able to. Af­ter get­ting a war­rant to es­tab­lish a GPS lo­ca­tion of Ja­cobs us­ing the cell phone num­bers he used to com­mu­ni­cate with the dealer, Johnson was able to track him to a home in New Cas­tle. Ja­cobs was ar­rested the morn­ing of July 18.

Ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed against Ja­cobs, the case be­gan when Cow­dright was called to a home in New Gar­den to in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­ble drug over­dose death of a woman, iden­ti­fied in the com­plaint by her ini­tials, T. A., on June 29.

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