LOS ANGELES – A Riverside man who sold a powerful opioid very similar to fentanyl to a friend – who then suffered a fatal overdose from the narcotic – has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking offenses.
Adam Scott Caward, 33, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to two federal offenses – distribution of acetyl fentanyl resulting in death, and possession with the intent to distribute acetyl fentanyl.
The federal investigation into Caward began in June, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a package sent to Caward from China. The shipment contained a compound known as 4-FIBF, which is an analogue of fentanyl – meaning that the narcotic is chemically similar to fentanyl and designed to cause an effect similar to the powerful synthetic opioid.
A subsequent investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration, in cooperation with the Riverside Police Department, led to the discovery of controlled substances at Caward's Riverside home in July. The investigation linked Caward to other fentanyl analogues and synthetic opioids that he possessed nine months earlier at his then-residence in Chino Hills.
According to a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Caward admitted exchanging a series of text messages with a friend on November 7 and 8, 2016, which culminated in Caward selling his friend a purple powder containing acetyl fentanyl. Within hours of purchasing the narcotic from Caward, the friend died of acute acetyl fentanyl intoxication.
On November 16, 2016, the Riverside Police Department executed a state court search warrant on Caward's Chino Hills residence, where they found a number of controlled substances, including fentanyl analogues. Among the drugs that Caward possessed was approximately 19.5 grams of the same purple powder containing acetyl fentanyl that was sold to the friend.
Caward pleaded guilty yesterday before United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who scheduled a sentencing hearing on March 1.
As a result of his guilty pleas, and because the narcotics involved in the distribution offense resulted in death, Caward faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, and a possible sentence of life without parole.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section.
Component(s): USAO – California, Central
Press Release Number: 17-213 Updated December 1, 2017
Central District of California DOJ / 17-213 / December 1, 2017