Accused sentenced to 10 years in prison in case featured in HBO documentary ‘Crime of the Century’ | USAO-SDCA

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Gordon (619) 546-6720


SAN DIEGO—Cole Thomas Salazar was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo to 120 months for his role in delivering the lethal dose of powdered fentanyl that resulted in the death of 24-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Fuzzell , November 3, 2020.

According to his plea agreement, Salazar used an online classifieds service to offer controlled substances for sale. After contacting Fuzzell online, Salazar sold her fentanyl on November 2, 2020, and she later died from that fentanyl. On January 10, 2021, law enforcement arrested Salazar and found packets of heroin and fentanyl on him.

A search of a nearby hotel room revealed numerous quantities of controlled substances, including fentanyl and paraphernalia linked to dealers, such as scales, bags and payment slips. The plea agreement states for Salazar that the commission of the offense of distributing fentanyl causing death and/or grievous bodily harm applies. The investigation and arrest of Salazar and his co-defendant Valerie Lynn Addison was featured in HBO’s “Crime of the Century.”

Addison is expected to be sentenced by Judge Bencivengo on November 16, 2022.

“Our community has lost a dynamic and intelligent 24-year-old victim to powdered fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We cannot stress enough the danger of powdered fentanyl. If you are a drug dealer who chooses to sell powdered fentanyl – regardless of extreme risk – our office will prosecute you for any deaths resulting from your sale.

“Drug traffickers like Mr. Salazar must be held accountable for the increase in fentanyl-related deaths we’ve seen in San Diego communities,” said Shelly Howe, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Fake pills and powdered fentanyl have no place in San Diego, and we will continue to bring those who sell these drugs to justice.”

“The sentence for the lethal dose of propelled fentanyl that resulted in the tragic death of a youth sends a clear message to criminal drug traffickers,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge of HSI San Diego. “The trafficking of these dangerous substances has serious consequences. HSI, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to seek out and bring to justice those involved in drug overdoses of all kinds.

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the San Diego County Attorney’s Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate and prosecute the distribution of dangerous illegal drugs, particularly fentanyl, that result in death by overdose. The Drug Enforcement Administration created the Overdose Response Team in response to the increase in overdose deaths in San Diego County. Investigators from the DEA’s Overdose Response Team led the investigation into Fuzzell’s death.

DEFENDANTS Case number 21cr3518-CAB

Cole Thomas Salazar Age: 32 San Diego, CA

Valerie Lynn Addison Age: 40 San Diego, CA



Possession with Intent to Distribute (Fentanyl) – Title 18, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: twenty years in prison


Possession with intent to distribute (fentanyl and methamphetamine) – Title 18, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: twenty years in prison


Drug Enforcement Administration

Homeland Security Investigations

Federal Bureau of Investigation

California Department of Health Services

San Diego Sheriff’s Department

San Diego Police Department

San Diego County Attorney’s Office

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