An Oceanside, California, woman has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for selling fentanyl to a Camp Pendleton Marine who died from an overdose the same day.

A federal judge sentenced Jesse Jakob Sanders to 6.5 years and five years supervised release on Tuesday following her guilty plea to selling the illegal drug to the Marine on Jan. 2, 2022.

“Fentanyl is so powerful, so toxic, so addictive, that it can snare even the toughest among us,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “Today’s outcome cannot bring back this Marine, but it reflects the consequence for peddlers dealing this poison: prison.”

The Marine, who was not named in court documents, communicated with Sanders over Facebook Messenger on Jan. 1, 2022, asking if Sanders had “H or fent,” abbreviations for heroin or fentanyl, a powerful prescription opioid that has been cited as a central driver in a spike in overdose deaths in recent years.

“The illicit distribution and use of fentanyl in the United States poses a critical threat to our local communities, our nation’s service members, and ultimately our national security,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Battaglia of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Marine West Field Office.

The Marine, identified only as “ZSM” in court documents, offered to pay for $150 worth of the drug.

The two arranged to meet at an Extended Stay Hotel in Carlsbad, California, about five miles from the Camp Pendleton main gate the following day.

The pair made the transaction, according to Sanders guilty plea. At 3 p.m. that same day military police and emergency medical personnel responded to a call from the Marine’s wife found him unresponsive in his parked vehicle onboard the base.

A medical doctor pronounced ZSM dead at 3:18 p.m. Jan. 2, 2022. An autopsy revealed fentanyl toxicity as the cause of death.

A search of ZSM’s vehicle found 1.106 grams of a mixture containing fentanyl.

Sanders had a history of narcotics-related criminality resulting from her substance abuse and drug addiction, according to the release. At the time she sold fentanyl powder to the ZSM, she was on summary probation from a San Diego Superior Court conviction and still has an additional pending felony case for robbery.

In September 2022 a federal jury convicted Nameer Mohammad Atta, of San Diego, of distributing counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl that led to the May 21, 2020, overdose death of an active duty Camp Pendleton, California, lance corporal identified as “CMR” in court documents. Atta has since filed motions for a new trial and has not yet been sentenced, according to court records.

In September 2020 five defendants, including two Camp Pendleton, California, Marines, were indicted on charges of running a drug trafficking ring that distributed narcotics, including fentanyl-laced oxycodone pills that caused the death of Lance Cpl. Lozrenzo Mascarenas, 20, on May 23, 2020.

Former Lance Cpl. Anthony Ruben Whisenant was charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, distribution of fentanyl. Whisenant pleaded not guilty to all counts following his 2020 indictment.

He was scheduled for trial on Aug. 7, but has a hearing to review his bond status on July 3.

Former Lance Cpl. Ryan Douglas White was charged with being an accessory after the fact for attempting to hinder law enforcement’s investigation of his co-defendants.

His trial is scheduled for Aug. 20.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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