West Sacramento Man to Be Charged with Murder for Fentanyl Overdose Death

El Dorado County Sheriff Deputy arresting a man for selling fentanyl related to an overdose death in El Dorado on Monday, January 23, 2023. (Courtesy of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.)

By Robert J Hansen

El Dorado, CA – A West Sacramento man was arrested at his parent’s home in Elk Grove, on suspicion of second-degree murder and distribution of a controlled substance to minors, by El Dorado County Narcotics Detectives on Monday according to a statement from officials.

The suspect was arrested after an eight-month investigation into a May 2022 overdose death in the Shingle Springs area where the victim ingested a counterfeit pill that she believed to be authentic, the statement said.

Detectives identified a suspect out of West Sacramento as the supplier of lethal counterfeit pills.

Last May, El Dorado detectives initially arrested the subject at his West Sacramento residence the day after the overdose, where detectives recovered over five thousand counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, cocaine, and an illegally possessed short-barreled rifle, authorities said.

The man posted bail and was released shortly thereafter.

“The suspect was originally arrested for distribution of narcotics and firearms charges,” an El Dorado public information officer said. “The suspect was released after he posted bail and after an ongoing investigation an arrest warrant was issued for murder.”

In 2021, fentanyl was the cause of 5,722 overdose deaths in California, according to the California Department of Public Health.

That year 19 of those were in El Dorado County, an increase from 10 the year before. In 2019, there were only two deaths from fentanyl in the county, according to the California Overdose Surveillance Overdose dashboard.

State lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have permitted charging someone who sells a lethal dose of fentanyl with murder last year.

That hasn’t prevented counties from prosecuting.

Two Fresno residents were charged with murder for allegedly selling fentanyl-laced pills last October, to a 41-year-old woman who died, according to ABC News.

Fresno District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said it was the county’s first murder case for selling counterfeit pills.

Riverside County was the first California district attorney’s office to file murder charges against people in fentanyl-related deaths, having charged 11 people by January 2022, according to the Press-Enterprise.

Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire told ABC 10 that these cases all require instances where someone dies taking fake pills when buying what they think is a Percocet.

Placer County first charged someone in a fentanyl related death in December 2021.

About The Author

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Robert is covering the Yolo County DA's race for the Vanguard.

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