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RivCo man who supplied deadly dose of fentanyl sentenced

Samuel Leo Mussaw
Samuel Leo Mussaw

A 26-year-old San Jacinto man who supplied a fatal dose of fentanyl to an acquaintance was sentenced today to 12 years in state prison.

Samuel Leo Mussaw last month admitted charges of voluntary manslaughter and possession of controlled substances for sale under a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. In exchange for his admissions, prosecutors dropped a second-degree murder charge against Mussaw.
During a hearing Tuesday at the Banning Justice Center, Superior Court Judge Jorge Hernandez certified the terms of the plea deal and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.

Mussaw provided a quantity of fentanyl that claimed the life of 23-year-old Adam Young of San Jacinto on March 4, 2021.

According to Sgt. Rick Espinoza of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, deputies and paramedics were called to the 900 block of Cypress Drive, near Malaga Drive, that afternoon to investigate a possible drug overdose. Espinoza said Young was found unconscious and unresponsive in his house. Efforts by first responders to revive him were unsuccessful.

Further investigation revealed the victim had consumed pills containing fentanyl, and detectives were able to track down the source -- Mussaw -- according to the sergeant. The defendant and victim knew one another, but no other details were released.

Espinoza said that a search warrant was served at Mussaw's residence in the 100 block of North Dillon Road, where three firearms, a stash of cash "and approximately 2,000 M-30 pills of fentanyl" were seized. He was taken into custody without a struggle. Over two dozen people have been charged with murder in fentanyl-related cases countywide.

In November, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office closed the books on its first fentanyl murder case to go before a jury, culminating in the conviction of 34-year-old Vicente David Romero, who was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the 2020 death of a Temecula woman.

Preliminary data just released by the county Department of Public Health showed there were 388 confirmed fentanyl-related fatalities countywide in 2023, a 23% decline from 2022, when there were 503. Fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs, principally in China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which says the synthetic opioid is smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by cartels.

The drug is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and can be mixed into any number of street narcotics and prescription drugs, without a user knowing what he or she is consuming. Ingestion of only two milligrams can be fatal.

Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans between 18 and 45 years old.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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