Former Long Beach EMT sentenced for distributing fatal dose of fentanyl to coworker

A former first responder was sentenced Thursday to 29 years in federal prison for selling fentanyl to two co-workers who thought they were buying cocaine, one of whom later died of an overdose.

43-year-old Cruz Noel Quintero worked as an EMT at a Long Beach hospital. 

In September 2022, a jury found Quintero guilty of one count of distributing fentanyl resulting in death, one count of possessing machine guns, two counts of possessing unregistered firearms, one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises, and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

According to evidence presented at trial, beginning in February 2018, Quintero shipped cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs across the country as well as distributed them locally in Long Beach.

According to court documents, in May 2019, Quintero sold a white powder, he claimed was cocaine, for $100 to a coworker in the parking lot outside the hospital’s emergency room. The coworker was planning to go to Las Vegas for the weekend with her partner. 

The next morning, the couple sampled the white powder – not knowing it was fentanyl – and passed out. One of the victims, identified in court documents as "S.F.", later died. 

Two toxicologists testified that the only drug they found in S.F.’s blood was fentanyl and that the victim died due to fentanyl toxicity.

After learning that Quintero sold the fatal dose, law enforcement searched two houses and discovered Quintero’s drug-trafficking operation. During the search, detectives found 13 firearms, two of which were machine guns, two short-barreled assault rifles, and nine other guns, some of which were loaded. 

One of the homes was used as a base for his drug operation. Officials say they found over ten pounds of cutting agents used to dilute the quality of the drugs he sold and a hydraulic press used to manufacture kilogram bricks of cocaine.

According to trial testimony, Quintero also shipped kilogram-quantities of cocaine and pound-quantities of methamphetamine to drug traffickers in Minnesota.

A judge sentenced Quintero to 292 months in prison for the fentanyl death count, 120 months in prison for the firearms counts, 240 months in federal prison for the maintaining a drug premises count – all of which are to run concurrent to each other. He was also sentenced to 60 months in prison for possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, a term which will run consecutive to the other counts.