Alleged dealer accused in fentanyl-related death indicted by grand jury

(Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt

Three days after a teenager was found dead from an overdose, the man accused of selling him the fentanyl-laced pills that purportedly killed him, wrote on social media app Snapchat to ask: “Who needs perc 30’s. Mobile all day. I’m doing deals.”

Angelo Loza did not yet know Louis Steyer, 16, was dead, and that the person replying to the message, asking to buy pills, was not him, but a Las Vegas police detective, who had the teenager’s phone, Sgt. Justin Williams testified this month.

“Perc 30’s” is slang for 30 mg Percocet pills.

When Loza, 20, pulled up to Steyer’s north valley neighborhood with his girlfriend in his gold Audi car on July 7, a police helicopter buzzed above while undercover officers waited for him, Williams said in April 19 grand jury proceedings.

And after Loza was released from jail after a walk-through booking on a single drug charge, he took to Snapchat again, telling his followers that Steyer had set him up.

“Ya’ll, this (expletive) is the feds, transcripts read. “He set me up.”

Loza on Tuesday was indicted on one count each of second-degree murder, sale of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, Clark County District Court records show.

He was summoned for a May 11 arraignment hearing. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

A Clark County coroner’s office examiner and Steyer’s parents also testified in front of the grand jury.

Jan Gorniak, who examined Steyer’s body and toxicology report, said the teenager had nonlethal amounts of MDMA, the party drug commonly known as ecstasy, and Xanax.

But he had 14 nn/ml of fentanyl, when the drug is fatal with doses as low as 4 nn/ml, she said.

The synthetic opioid described as being many times stronger than morphine is killing an increasing amount of Nevadans, many of whom do not know they are consuming counterfeit pills pressed with the opioid.

Ten out of 227 fentanyl-related deaths in Clark County last year were of children under 18, Metropolitan Police Department numbers show. In 2015, there were only 16 total fentanyl-related deaths in the county.

Tom and Mihaela Steyer retold the story of arriving home on July 4 following a wedding anniversary and finding their son dead.

They had spoken to him over the phone the previous day, and he seemed fine, Tom Steyer said.

He said his wife was pleading with medics, crying and screaming, “I’ll save you, I’ll save you,” but it was too late.

“She’s nowhere near what she used to be like,” he said about his wife.

Mihaela Steyer repeatedly said she could not understand the procedure, and could not keep her composure as Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tina Talim tried to get her to focus, according to the transcripts. The prosecutor did not allow the mother, who at one point pulled out a portrait of her son, to speak about him.

Williams described documenting the Steyers’ home and finding blood and vomit all over the second-floor, and a “foam cone” coming out of the teenager’s face, “tell-tale” signs of an opioid overdose, he said.

Williams found conversations between Loza and Steyer in which the suspect apologized for overcharging him $20 for pills the week he died, adding that he would “throw in” a free one next time.

But the next time Loza received a message from Steyer’s account, he was unknowingly communicating with Williams.

After he was taken into custody, Loza told Williams that he was only a “middle man” who had been selling drugs for two weeks, according to the transcripts. The four pills found in his car, which were similar to the ones found near Steyer’s body, tested positive for fentanyl, Williams said.

When he was released, he resorted to Snapchat again. “Dumb — cops got four percs and a possession charge,” according to the transcripts.

Months later, in October, he was charged with murder and second-degree murder before the case went to a grand jury.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.