A Gaithersburg man who cut lethal opioids with powdered sugar to reduce their potency pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and other crimes.
The charges in U.S. District Court against Leandro Acevedo Lozada, 33, were connected to a January 2017 overdose death in Montgomery County.
According to police and prosecutors, Lozada’s co-defendant, Bradley Seabolt, sold drugs containing acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl to someone in Montgomery County, who later died from ingesting the drugs. Seabolt, 30, of Gaithersburg, had obtained the drugs from Lozada. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the victim died from fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, and cocaine intoxication.
Seabolt pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and is awaiting sentencing.
According to the plea agreement Lozada entered Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, he distributed drugs to street dealers and drug users in January and February 2017. Lozada pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, possession of acetyl fentanyl and cocaine, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the state of Maryland, Lozada was unsure of the exact chemical compounds he sold, but suspected it was fentanyl. Because the opioids were so strong, Lozada used powdered sugar to dilute them in an effort to expand their volume and his profit, and to make the drugs safer for his customers, according to a press release from the federal prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutors outlined Thursday some of the evidence that might have been used at trial against Lozada: 147 grams of a substance that contained acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl; about 23 grams of cocaine; a bag of powdered sugar used as a cutting agent; $4,452 in cash; a digital scale; and a .45-caliber handgun.
The items were recovered during searches on Feb. 17, 2017, at residences used by Lozada in Damascus and Gaithersburg.
Because Lozada had a previous felony conviction, he was prohibited from legally possessing the firearm.
Lozada and the government have agreed to a sentence of between 10 and 20 years in prison, subject to acceptance by a federal judge. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Montgomery County Department of Police for their work in the investigation.