Man Gets 15 Years for Dealing Deadly Dose of Fentanyl to Tustin Teen


SANTA ANA, Calif.—A 24-year-old Santa Ana man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison July 17 for dealing a deadly dose of fentanyl to an 18-year-old Tustin woman.

Isai Hernandez Higinio pleaded guilty Jan. 30 to possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl.

The defendant agreed to sell oxycodone pills to Adriana Davies in February 2021, but the drugs were counterfeit and contained fentanyl, according to prosecutors. She died early Feb. 5, 2021. When investigators served a search warrant on the defendant’s residence they found 23 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

Davies’s father said in a victim impact statement that about five years ago his daughter got in a traffic collision and was treated for back pain with physical therapy and oxycontin.

“Although she generally recovered from the accident, she did not completely recover from a dependence on the pain killer,” he wrote.

Her mother went to wake her the morning of her overdose, the victim’s father said.

“It was pure hell discovering Adriana and being unable to wake her, frantically calling 911, then administering CPR until paramedics arrived, and then receiving a verbal knife to the heart when she was told there was nothing they could do,” her father wrote.

The victim’s mother said, “There are no words to describe the pain I feel every day since Feb. 5, 2021, or the profound sense of loss our family has experienced. I have difficulty sleeping and difficulty maintaining concentration at times.”

She said her daughter was “gifted and very talented,” and was “also kind, humble and a very good friend. Her friends described her as the one who never had a mean thing to say about anyone and the one that tried to ensure that everyone got along.”

Hernandez wrote a letter to the parents of the victims apologizing for his role in her death.

“Truly, not a day goes by that I do not think about my carelessness, bad decisions, and my personal negligence which caused her death,” Hernandez wrote. “Rather than contributing to her problems, I should have been smart and wise enough to know what such a deadly drug could do to her. I swear to you that I did not know that the pills contained fentanyl. But I did know they were counterfeit and I did warn her about that. Obviously, that was not enough. I never should have given them to her and for that, I can never, ever make up for what I have taken from you.”

Hernandez wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who handed down the sentence to the defendant, describing how his life led from being a good student to drug dealing.

Hernandez said his parents relocated the family to the U.S. when the defendant was 5 years old. He said he experienced some difficulties adapting to the change from Mexico to Santa Ana.

He said his parents were “devout Christians” and “strict” but good providers. He said he was an “A” student, but then began smoking marijuana in the ninth grade.

“Though still attending school and maintaining good grades I began to display rebellious behavior in the 10th and 11th grades,” he wrote.

He met a drug dealer he began smoking marijuana with, who “groomed” him to also sell narcotics for him.

Hernandez said he found himself enjoying the high life.

“The excitement and power of this new lifestyle was overwhelming,” he wrote. “I no longer felt poor anymore. I was now able to purchase expensive clothing, jewelry, cars, fine dining, and much more.”

When he started getting in trouble with the law his friend “terminated our relationship,” he said.

Hernandez is facing charges in state court for the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl in Irvine. He was also charged with oral copulation of a person younger than 16, furnishing cannabis to a minor older than 14, and selling or producing a controlled substance to a minor, all felonies, and he faced a sentencing enhancement for using a minor for drug transactions. He was declared a fugitive in that case, but it was noted in state court records that he had been in federal custody.

Federal prosecutors, who had recommended 15 years in prison, noted in court papers that Hernandez had one criminal conviction, but added, “his arrest history is extremely troubling and reveals a pattern of predatory behavior, including the sexual assault of young girls, reckless use of drugs and alcohol; reckless driving while under the influence; and lack of respect for law enforcement.”

When he dropped out of school following a breakup with a girlfriend, Hernandez said his parents kicked him out and he began making a living dealing drugs while also working legitimate jobs.

Hernandez said he looks forward to getting his GED and taking college courses while in custody.

“Eventually, I would like to settle down and become a husband and father,” he said. “Recollecting my own childhood, I would hope to provide the same love, security, and sense of family values which my dear parents gave to me.”


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