Alexandria drug dealer charged with selling fentanyl, resulting in Arlington woman's overdose death

In Northern Virginia, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) targeted a 29-year-old Alexandria man and his co-conspirators in a large-scale counterfeit pill trafficking organization.

Kibruysday Degefa was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Friday for selling fentanyl, which resulted in the death of a 20-year-old Arlington woman, Kalisia Matthews. She overdosed back on December 21st, 2020 -- just 4 days before Christmas.

Her brother, Sean Matthews, says while this has been tough to deal with, he is glad the man responsible for selling drugs to her is being held accountable.

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"There’s millions of people, thousands of people who die every day to the fentanyl epidemic and any drug epidemic where they don’t get justice for their family," Matthews said. "I feel confident, I’m pretty happy we’re one of the select few who received justice regarding our loved one. This sentence will help us move forward in our lives and to remember her."

According to the DEA, Degefa is accused of working with others and using social media apps like Snapchat to advertise counterfeit pills that contained deadly quantities of fentanyl.

Sean Matthews says his sister died as a result of buying drugs from Degefa online. Fentanyl was found in her blood.

Police executed a search warrant on Degefa’s hotel room where they found narcotics, for distribution, along with multiple guns hidden in the bathroom ceiling tiles.

FOX 5’s Sierra Fox spoke with Degefa’s attorney, Greg Hunter, who says they have the right to appeal. He has respect for the judge’s decision, but has a problem with his client being sentenced to 14 years behind bars when his co-conspirator will serve less than three.

"We’ve gone in recent years from realizing that the war on drugs wasn’t working," Hunter said. "The fact that we lock up more people for more years than any other nation on earth, yet our drug problem continues to get worse is a sign that parts of what we’re doing are failures."

The DEA says it’s not clear if Degefa is responsible for any other deadly overdoses, but he is being held responsible for other non-fatal overdoses. Degefa was previously convicted of a robbery in Alexandria back in 2015.


Shane Todd, the assistant special agent In charge for the Washington Division DEA, says the opioid epidemic is getting worse.

"It’s all age groups," Todd explained. "Anyone could be a victim of this. You could have older Americans who are shopping online for cheaper prescription pills. You could have younger Americans who are trying to get oxy, and they buy it online thinking it’s legitimate oxy when in reality, it’s press fentanyl." 

The DEA is encouraging people to talk to their loved ones about the dangers of drugs to prevent another overdose.