Man guilty of delivering heroin that killed Keizer woman

Article author: 
Joce DeWitt
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Friday, August 29, 2014
Article category: 
Article Body: 

A 35-year-old man pleaded guilty to the delivery of heroin that resulted in the death of a 21-year-old Laurin Putnam, of Keizer.

Sergio Quezada-Lopez, of Mexico, appeared before a U.S. District Judge Monday and entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute heroin that resulted in death, according to the Department of Justice.

Quezada-Lopez is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1. The maximum sentence is life in prison and there is a mandatory minimum of 20 years.

Putnam's father Ron said after his daughter's death that he would see things through until the end. Now he is one step closer.

"I'm glad to see that it's finally coming to fruition," Ron Putnam said.

The investigation into Putnam's death began in April 2012 when police officers found her dead inside her Keizer residence. The Oregon State Medical Examiner confirmed her death was caused by a heroin overdose.

In the four days following her death, officials made a number of arrests and held searches in Marion, Washington and Multnomah counties, and Vancouver, Wash.

An investigation allowed authorities to identify the final suspect in the distribution chain. From there, investigators continued to identify people involved and eventually moved six levels up through the chain of distributors to Quezada-Lopez, the DOJ said.

He is charged with large-scale conspiracy regarding distribution of heroin in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Nevada. He was in charge of a network of houses in Portland and Vancouver, Wash. that were used to stash drugs and received orders for heroin, then direct its delivery.

Others involved in the conspiracy collected payments in cash and then transferred money to Quezada-Lopez, the DOJ said.

When officials searched the house, they found large quantities of heroin, along with methamphetamine and cocaine. They also found documentation, drug ledgers, weapons, packaging material and $20,000. In one location, a drug ledger contained Quezada-Lopez's fingerprints and a document had his picture. Officers listened to a phone conversation in which he described an amount of heroin to be delivered.

He was arrested April 20, 2012, less than a week after Putnam died.

Also arrested around the same time as Quezada-Lopez were Braulio Acosta Mendoza, Jose Romo Gonzalez, Jose Aldan Soto and Julian Hernandez Castillo.

Court records during early proceedings of the defendants said that the operation "yielded a yearly gross profit of over one hundred thousand dollars."

"It's nice to get some closure. I do feel a sense of relief that things are finally starting to falling in"to place," Ron Putnam said. "Ultimately I'll never have her back."

The Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation, mainly through its Salem task force, along with Salem and Keizer police departments, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and other agencies around Oregon and Washington.