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February 22, 2022San Diego, CA, United StatesNarcotics

San Diego ICE HSI, HIDTA task force investigation leads to historic sentence for convicted drug dealer

SAN DIEGO – A San Diego and Imperial County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force investigation resulted in a local man’s 25-year prison sentence for distributing fentanyl that resulted in a death.

The task force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego special agents, determined that Jahvaris Lamoun Springfield, 31, sold the lethal pills that resulted in the Feb. 5, 2019, overdose death of James Gallagher, a U.S. Army veteran.

The investigation revealed that on the day of his death, Gallagher contacted Springfield to purchase OxyContin pills. Later that afternoon, Gallagher’s roommates called 911 after finding his body unresponsive in his bedroom.

“This strong sentence should resonate to the dealers of deadly drugs; that when you peddle illicit fentanyl you will be investigated and held to account for the lives and families you destroy,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “HSI has been a proud participant since the inception of the HIDTA NTF Team 10. HSI special agents assigned to the team have brought to bear an expertise of field testing fentanyl and cross referencing the intelligence with border operations.”

Task force agents conducting the investigation at Gallagher’s residence, found two counterfeit pills that HSI special agents field tested and found positive for fentanyl.

The autopsy report showed that Gallagher, who struggled with an opioid addiction, had a fatal concentration of fentanyl in his blood.

During Springfield’s arrest, task force agents discovered counterfeit OxyContin pills in the vehicle he was driving. The pills were field tested by HSI special agents and also tested positive for fentanyl.

Following Springfield’s Aug. 27, 2021, conviction, a federal judge sentenced him to 300 months in prison – the longest sentence to date in the district for this type of crime.

“This is the longest federal sentence to date in a case of a drug dealer being held responsible for the death of a customer in the Southern District of California, and it should put dealers and those who supply them on notice. Every time we have an overdose death, law enforcement will come looking for you, because lives are at stake,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will not stop with the street-level dealers but will follow the supply chain as far up as necessary and will use every available criminal and civil tool to combat this deadly epidemic and stop these tragic losses.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team as well as DEA Team 10 investigators for their hard work on the case.

“Today’s sentencing of Jahvaris Springfield is a reflection of the hard work of the investigators assigned to DEA’s Team 10,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “These dedicated men and women work tirelessly around the clock to hold drug dealers accountable for the deaths they are causing and to bring justice to families who have lost their loved ones. This 25-year sentence is proof that their efforts have paid off.”

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI's workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI's international presence represents DHS's largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.