The ringleader of a fentanyl, heroin and cocaine distribution center was sentenced to 24 years in prison. His co-defendant was sentenced to more than 4 years in prison, for helping to distribute the controlled substances.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Office, Rick Maglione, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
On April 18, 2018, Lenden Pendergrass, 54, and Heather Loiola, 30, both of Fort Lauderdale, previously plead guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and crack cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841. Pendergrass also plead guilty to being a felon unlawfully in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g). United States District Judge Federico A. Moreno sentenced Pendergrass to 292 months in prison and Loiola to 57 months in prison. In addition, both defendants were sentenced to 3 years of supervised release.
According to the court record, from on or about July 26, 2017, through on or about February 23, 2018, Pendergrass and Loiola were engaged in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. Pendergrass operated the narcotics distribution center from his residence in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He would sell what he claimed to be heroin, but in fact was either fentanyl or a mixture of fentanyl and cocaine. He also sold crack cocaine. Loiola worked as a drug distributor for Pendergrass, who possessed and caused the distribution of approximately four ounces of fentanyl a week.
On December 23, 2017, a victim purchased purported heroin, from Loiola, that had been supplied by Pendergrass. The victim ingested the purported heroin that same day and overdosed. On December 26, 2107, the victim passed away. The medical examiner ruled it a possible opioid overdose.
On January 31, 2018, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department stopped a vehicle driven by an individual who resided at Pendergrass’s house. A deceased adult male was found in the backseat of the vehicle. The victim purchased purported heroin from Pendergrass’s residence.
On February 23, 2018, during the execution of a search warrant at Pendergrass’s residence, law enforcement recovered approximately four ounces of fentanyl, containing no heroin, a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with 6 rounds of ammunition, approximately half an ounce of crack cocaine, two scales and $1,596.
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.
Mr. Greenberg commends the investigative efforts of the DEA, Fort Lauderdale Police Department and FBI. Mr. Greenberg thanked the Sunrise Police Department and Coral Springs Police Department for their assistance with this matter. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Francis I. Viamontes and Neil Karadbil. Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Brady, Jr. also provided assistance.