One lengthy drug sentence is likely to come down in Santa Clara County in a case involving a dealer who was providing dangerous, fentanyl-laced pills to students at Los Gatos High School last year, leading to at least one overdose.
23-year-old Simon Armendariz was charged in December with felony drug sales to minors, and the district attorney in Santa Clara County has wanted to make an example of the case as an egregious one involving fentanyl and high school kids. Now, as KPIX reports, has struck a plea deal and pleaded guilty to four felony counts in exchange for a 12-year sentence.
"Just so everybody knows: fentanyl kills," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. "Just so everybody knows: if you sell fentanyl to teenagers then our prosecutors will do everything in our power to send you to prison for a very long time."
The case dates back to sometime in 2022, after a Los Gatos High School student accidentally overdosed in a bathroom while attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The girl, 15, had apparently taken a $10 pill labeled as Percocet which investigators traced back to other students at the school, and ultimately to Armendariz, who went by the nicknames "Risky" and "Madman."
As NBC Bay Area reported, Armendariz was charged late last year with selling the pills to four minor victims, and at the time he was already on probation for an undisclosed conviction, and he had an extensive criminal history.
"Defendant Armendariz did sell and furnish a minor a deadly fentanyl pill that did result in an overdose," said Deputy District Attorney Eunice Lee at the time. "I am thankful to say that this is not a homicide case, but given the dangers of fentanyl that the dealers know it could have easily resulted in a death."
The students buying the pills allegedly knew of their dangers, and they carried Narcan around with them in case of overdoses. Armendariz reportedly sold the pills at the school, and out of a church parking lot, and prosecutors say he encouraged the teens to share his cell number so that he could increase his client base.
Armendariz will formally be sentenced on December 6.
The conviction comes at a time of high tension around substance abuse at Los Gatos High School. In 2020, 17-year-old Los Gatos High School senior Linus Blom accidentally overdosed on a fentanyl-laced pill. And in 2021, a case unfolded involving a mother of two Los Gatos students who had allegedly been throwing alcohol-fueled parties at her home and elsewhere for her sons' underage friends, and encouraged them to have sex with each other — resulting in at least one alleged assault.
In the wake of that case, the Los Gatos town council passed a "social host" ordinance which levies penalties on any adult who provides alcohol or other substances to minors, or allows substances to be procured on their watch. They're also paying a pricy consultant to come do surveys and workshops with parents and students at Los Gatos High to talk about healthier behaviors around alcohol.