“Truly tragic.” They didn’t know the cocaine they were using contained fentanyl. 3 collapsed and 1 died.

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Joshua Chambers

SAN DIEGO – Perry Edward Davis of San Diego was sentenced in federal court today to 20 years in prison for distributing the fentanyl that resulted in the death of Joshua Chambers, a 25-year-old husband and father of two young children from El Cajon.

Davis was convicted by a federal jury on October 7, 2021, after a trial before U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns.

Chambers was one of three people who collapsed on December 21, 2019, at approximately 2:30 a.m., outside the QuarterDeck Cocktail Bar in El Cajon. Paramedics and first responders quickly identified the mass-collapse as an opioid overdose and administered Narcan – a medication designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose – to all three subjects. Two were revived and recovered, but Chambers never regained consciousness. He was declared deceased at approximately 3:39 a.m. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is releasing excerpts from a security video which was presented as evidence at Davis’ trial showing the victims collapsing.

The investigation revealed that the three individuals had ingested what they believed was cocaine by snorting a “line” in Chambers’ vehicle shortly before each collapsed. Laboratory testing of a baggie found in the vehicle showed that it contained cocaine mixed with fentanyl; the evidence at trial showed that mixture was supplied by Davis shortly before it was used.

During sentencing, Judge Burns stated that the “effect fentanyl has is way worse, way more deadly, than other highly addictive and dangerous drugs that we see.” When addressing Davis, Judge Burns noted that, based on the trial evidence, “[i]t was clear to me that you were the purveyor” and that, “[b]ut for the intervention of first responders, we’d have three deaths rather than the one here.”

At today’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper described the case as “truly tragic” and noted that neither Chambers nor the others knew the cocaine they were using was, in fact, laced with fentanyl. Casper explained that the case “should serve, in part, as a clarion call about the unsafe nature of illicit street drugs” and that “no controls on illicit drug suppliers or dealers can regulate what is actually being supplied.”

In a statement submitted to the court, Chambers’ wife said: “My husband was loved by so many. As a mother I suffer daily having to see my children miss their father. They are so young and they don’t understand fully why their daddy had to go to heaven. It is so heartbreaking to see my children hurt and not be able to do anything to take it away and make it better. The biggest tragedy from all of this is that 2 innocent children have to grow up without a dad.”

Chambers’ mother noted that her son’s death “has left me numb for the rest of my life.”

Chambers’ wife and mother also expressed the hope that keeping Davis off the streets would save other lives.

“Today, a drug dealer has been held to account for the tragic death of Joshua Chambers,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “A son, husband and father has left this world way too soon, and a devastated family will forever struggle with this senseless loss. The images of these victims collapsing is a very painful and unforgettable reminder of fentanyl’s powerful impact. Our efforts to prosecute those responsible for needless fentanyl-related deaths continues unabated.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team as well as the El Cajon Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and agents from Narcotics Task Force Team 10, a multi-agency team that was created in July 2018 to address drug overdose deaths in San Diego, for their efforts on this case.

“This case is a dire reminder to the public that there are no safe recreational drugs. The DEA is now seeing fentanyl in a variety of recreational drugs in San Diego, to include stimulants,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “In this case, the individuals thought they were using cocaine and it cost one of them – a young father of two – his life. If you are using drugs, please seek help with your addiction. It could save your life.”

For those who suffer from addiction, please know there is help. Call the Crisis line at 888-724-7240; it’s always open.

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