Federal jury finds California drug supplier guilty of distribution in relation to fatal fentanyl overdose of Fairbanks man

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fairbanks, Alaska (KINY) – A federal jury convicted a California drug dealer late Friday for his connection to the fatal fentanyl overdose of a Fairbanks man.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Junior Gafatasi Tulali, 48, was the original source of fentanyl pills that were sold to a Fairbanks man who died of a fentanyl overdose in October 2020.

Around Oct. 13, 2020, Tulali agreed to sell 500 Oxycodone M30 pills to a dealer in Fairbanks, when in fact, they were counterfeit pills laced with deadly fentanyl. The pills were shipped from California and arrived in Fairbanks on Oct. 17, 2020. The individual who retrieved the shipment distributed the counterfeit pills to several other dealers in the area. On Oct. 26, 2020, the victim purchased two pills from the shipment and was found dead in his home on Oct. 28, 2020. Medical examiners determined cause of death was acute toxic effects of fentanyl.

Evidence presented at trial connected two additional non-fatal fentanyl overdoses to Tulali’s shipment of counterfeit pills. Both of the dealers in Fairbanks who were involved in selling the fentanyl pills to the victim were convicted for their role in this offense in 2022.

“Fentanyl is poison and has killed too many Alaskans,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker. “The successful conviction of Mr. Tulali highlights my office’s vow to prioritize working with law enforcement to keep fentanyl out of our communities and prosecute those who cause irreparable damage by trafficking it to our state from Outside.”

“Mr. Tulali’s actions clearly demonstrated the grievous threat that fentanyl traffickers pose to our communities,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “Fentanyl traffickers have caused the deaths of far too many Alaskans and hopefully the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration and our partners in achieving this conviction will slow the deadly fentanyl trade in our community.”

“I am very proud of the role that Fairbanks Police officers played in helping the victims in this case find justice. The impressive collaboration between law enforcement agencies to hold this criminal accountable proves that we will do whatever is necessary to prevent criminal enterprises from gaining a foothold in our community,” said Chief Ron Dupee of the Fairbanks Police Department.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and Fairbanks Police Department, with assistance from the FBI Anchorage Field Office and Alaska State Troopers, investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carly Vosacek and Alana Weber are prosecuting the case.