FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – A state task force may soon make it more likely drug dealers could be charged with second-degree murder in fentanyl-related deaths.
It could happen as soon as next year, but Fresno County has already been doing this.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office is one of just a few counties in that state that has already charged a suspected drug dealer linked to a fatal overdose with murder.
Now, DA Lisa Smittcamp believes Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta’s creation of this task force, is a ploy to get votes.
“This is murder without using a weapon, this is murder without using a firearm. The weapon is fentanyl,” said Smittcamp.
That was the District Attorney back on Oct. 18, 2022, when she announced Fresno County’s first murder charge in a fentanyl overdose death.
22-year-old Cassidy Gonzalez was charged with murder for the death of 41-year-old Jade Dreith, who died after taking an illegal pill.
Fast forward to the present, Governor Newsom announces the city of San Francisco and their law enforcement, can start looking into fentanyl overdoses as homicides.
“Anybody who is honestly and legitimately serious about making fentanyl dealers, traffickers, transporters more accountable, I’m all for it,” she said.
Smittcamp supports the creation of the task force and its intentions, which could charge more drug dealers with murder charges for people knowingly dealing fentanyl.
“I just have to question the motives, because Governor Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta have contributed to this crisis,” stated Smittcamp. “Them and their cronies.”
As a prosecutor, Smittcamp says the legislation that has come out during the Newsom administration, has hindered her and her office’s ability to keep drug dealers and traffickers off the streets.
“There is no penalty between very few days if any at all in a local jail, and what we call now fentanyl murder. And there is nothing in between for local and state prosecutors. That is why we are going to this extreme,” she said.
An extreme, that now has some of the task forces strategies, copying what the Fresno DA’s office does, like looking into the communication between dealer and customer.
There are roughly four to five cases the Fresno County DA and her staff are looking into right now, to see if they qualify for the second-degree murder charge as well.