Nearly five months after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged three Orange County men with operating a scam selling the synthetic opioid fentanyl and counterfeit oxycodone pills, two of the defendants this week made plea deals.
According to records inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, Duc Cao of Orange and Isaiah Suarez of Newport Beach, 20 and 22 respectively at their April arrests, have agreed to acknowledge guilt usually in hope of receiving breaks on potential punishments.
At the request of DOJ, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna sealed the agreements from public view on Aug. 28.
That leaves Wyatt Pasek, a 21-year-old Santa Ana resident whose social media accounts display numerous photos of him counting stacks of $100 bills, as the lone defendant scheduled for trial on Sept. 25.
The government’s criminal complaint alleges that the trio used a pill press to create the counterfeit drugs, the U.S. Postal Service for distribution and the darknet for customer contact.
Following a six-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Costa Mesa Police Department, a raid on Pasek’s residence found 13,000 counterfeit pills and “bundles” of U.S. currency.
Cao, who is a resident of Vietnam, has been living here on an expired student visa, according to DOJ.
The IRS Criminal Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Food and Drug Administration participated in the probe.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; featured in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.