A Greybull man charged with selling fentanyl-laced pills that led to the overdose death of a 25-year-old Cody man was bound over to district court Thursday on new charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.
Anthony Michael Fuentes, 36, appeared in Park County Circuit Court before Judge Joseph Darrah, who agreed there is enough evidence for Fuentes to stand trial.
Fuentes is accused of selling illicit opioids laced with fentanyl that led to the death of Jordan Jackson on Jan. 2, 2022.
These new charges follow earlier drug charges related to Jackson’s death in Big Horn County. On Dec. 19, Fuentes pleaded no contest to four felony drug charges for delivery and possession of counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl in Big Horn County and was sentenced to three to five years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary.
Until now, Fuentes had not been charged with any crimes related to Jackson’s death.
Started With Two Pills
All crimes date back to Jan. 2, 2023, when Fuentes was accused of selling two counterfeit oxycodone pills that tested positive for fentanyl to Jackson, who is referred to as “J.J.” in the charging documents.
Jackson was found dead in his apartment in Cody the following morning, and his autopsy toxicology report revealed the cause of death as fentanyl toxicity due to an accidental fentanyl overdose.
Special agent Jonathan Shane Reece with the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation testified that following Jackson’s death, Reece used Jackson’s phone to trace the purchase back to Fuentes.
Using the Signal app on Jackson’s phone, the agent was able to buy two suspected fentanyl-laced counterfeit oxycodonepills and arrested Fuentes outside of his home in Greybull following the transaction.
Upon arresting him, Reece asked Fuentes if he knew that any of the pill he’s sold were “hot,” which is street slang for containing fentanyl, or if he’d had any complaints from his buyers. He told Reece he had not.
Fuentes initially denied selling the pills to Jackson but relented when confronted with video surveillance and ATM records supporting the transaction between the two men, Reece stated.
Reece further testified that Fuentes allegedly admitted to bringing the 40 counterfeit pills back to Wyoming from Denver, two of which he sold for $40 each to Jackson.
At the time, Fuentes also confessed to selling the suspected fentanyl-laced oxycodone to “J.J.” on multiple occasions, Reece said.
Fuentes’ attorney, Christina Cherni, objected to Reece’s characterization that Fuentes had admitted to selling fentanyl.
Though he didn’t explicitly admit to it, Reece countered that he also didn’t object to the characterization.
“When I was questioning him, I referred to the tablets as fentanyl tablets or counterfeit oxycodone, and he never corrected me,” Reece said.
Reece, who has spent 15 years investigating drug and homicide cases, said the counterfeit oxycodone are pressed into pill form and marked as “M30” by the Mexican cartels and are unregulated. They are further made to mimic prescription oxycodone, so that the buyer wouldn’t necessarily know he’s buying illicit pills.
“They're a mirror of oxycodone that conceal their true identity from law enforcement,” he said, noting that it’s a marketing tactic for illegal sale.
Playing Russian Roulette
On the street, the pills can sell anywhere from $30 to $40 a pill, whereas in his experience, fentanyl pills are sold for between $20 to $40. These same fentanyl pills, by contrast, sell in Denver for $1 a pill, he added.
In his closing arguments, Hatfield said Fuentes had previously pleaded no contest, meaning he accepts the conviction but does not plead or admit guilt to the charges of selling illicit opioids laced with fentanyl.
Hatfield also cited Fuentes experience selling pills as cause for advancing the charges.
“We know that we're dealing with Mr. Anthony Fuentes, not only by his admissions, but all of the totality of the evidence that clearly shows he was in the business of selling fentanyl,” Hatfield said. “Not only to other individuals, but he admitted that he is selling fentanyl to Mr. Jordan Jackson on multiple occasions prior to that.”
In conclusion, Judge Darrah sided with the state on both charges.
“I find that under the totality of the circumstances that I'm able to connect all the dots,” he said, using the analogy that selling one of the illicit opioids was akin to playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun.
Darrah upheld Fuentes’ $100, 000 cash bond. Fuentes is being held in the Park County Detention Center with his preliminary date in district court pending.
If convicted, the crimes carry a sentence of up to 60 years in prison, a fine of up to $60,000, or both.