FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Authorities announced Tuesday that the first charge of suspicion of murder has been filed in a fentanyl-related overdose in Fresno County.
During the press conference, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced that 21-year-old Cassidy Gonzalez has been charged with four felony counts, including suspicion of murder, possession of fentanyl for sale, and sales of fentanyl.
Investigators said they believe Gonzalez provided the counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that caused 41-year-old Jade Dreith’s overdose death earlier this year.
Officials said 35-year-old Alejandro Valverde-Nuno has been charged with accessory after the fact, possession of fentanyl for sale, and sales of fentanyl.
Smittcamp said her office will continue to bring murder charges against those who are arrested in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Fresno County.
“If we find you and we catch you, I promise you this is the first, and it’s not going be the last case we prosecute for murder in Fresno County. You are killing people, you are killing families, you are destroying lives,” Smittcamp said during the press conference.
The district attorney also called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to crack down on fentanyl through legislation as the deadly drug continues to spread throughout the state.
She said the ongoing fentanyl crisis has claimed more lives of young people in this country than gun violence and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is murder without using a weapon, this is murder without using a firearm, the weapon is fentanyl,” said Smittcamp.
The Dreith family stood on stage alongside Smittcamp and a picture of Jade during the press conference.
“My sister didn’t deserve to die, and that’s why it’s important to me. She was an amazing person with more friends and people who loved her than I could count,” said Sage Dreith, Jade’s sister.
Sage explained that her sister had bought a pain pill to help her with her back pain, but she had no idea that it was laced with fentanyl.
Smittcamp said the highly addictive and potentially deadly drug is destroying the lives of families across the country.
“The pure use of fentanyl use can kill someone the first time, the fifth time, the 10th time they use it,” Smittcamp said. “With fentanyl, it is so powerful, it grabs ahold of people’s souls immediately. They want it, they crave it, they need it.”
Gonzalez and Valverde-Nuno were arrested on October 13 and booked into the Fresno County Jail.
Both are expected to be arraigned in court on November 1.
If convicted, Gonzalez could face 25 years to life in prison.