HARRISONBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia man will serve 13 years in prison after he sold fentanyl pills to a teen who fatally overdosed.

Abdallah Amer Ali, 21, pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl after police found a Snapchat conversation between Ali and the deceased teen on the teen’s phone, then conducted a controlled buy a few months later, confirming that Ali had continued dealing fentanyl after the teen’s death.

A forensic examination of Ali’s victim revealed that they had died of “acute fentanyl toxicity”– but in Snapchat conversations with Ali, it’s clear the teen believed they were purchasing Percocet.

The victim (in red) messaged Ali (blue) to purchase what they believed were Percocet — but which Ali knew to be fentanyl.

Ali sold the teen the counterfeit pills on Oct. 22. The teen took the pills that night, and died early the next morning, on Oct. 23.

“Many of the people who died from fentanyl had no idea they even took it,” said Jarod Forget, a DEA Special Agent. “The drug cartels are using social media to relentlessly expand their business and deceptively sell fake pills directly to young people.”

In a sentencing letter submitted by U.S. Attorney Jonathon Jones before Ali’s sentencing, he acknowledged that Ali was not a “large-scale dealer bringing in kilos of drugs to the greater Harrisonburg area,” and expressed hope that at the end of his sentence, Ali would be able to “recalibrate the direction of his life.”

Still, Jones wrote that Ali’s callousness in selling the fentanyl to unsuspecting buyers — which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old — called for a “heavy sanction.”

But in his own sentencing letter, Ali’s lawyer wrote that Ali was himself a victim of addiction who arrived in the United States at age 8 after fleeing war-torn Iraq. According to Ali, he became addicted to opioids after being shot in the face when he was robbed during a marijuana sale in 2019.

“It is that addiction and Ali’s efforts to feed that addiction which lead to the current charges,” his lawyer wrote.

In a statement following Ali’s sentencing, U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said the case was emblematic of the country’s worsening opioid crisis.

“In 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug poisonings, with nearly three-fourths of those deaths involving opioids, and we are on pace to surpass that this year,” Kavanaugh said. “Our country is in the midst of a staggering crisis and we must approach it comprehensively by prosecuting those who poison our communities and providing support and services to those fighting drug addiction disorder.