A suspected drug dealer accused of selling a woman counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that she later overdosed on was charged with murder this week, the Fresno County District Attorney's Office announced.
Cassidy Marie Gonzalez, 21, was arrested on Oct. 13 and charged Monday on murder and drug counts.
Another suspect, 25-year-old Alejandro Valverde-Nuno, was also arrested last week and charged Monday with accessory after the fact and drug charges.
"This is the first, but this is not going to be the last case that we prosecute for murder in the County of Fresno. You are killing people, you are killing families, you are destroying lives," District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said in a warning to drug dealers at a news conference on Tuesday.
Gonzalez is accused of selling a counterfeit fentanyl pill to 41-year-old Jade Alexandra Dreith on Jan. 15. She was found dead two days later.
"She didn’t know she was going to die. She didn’t plan to kill herself or do anything like that. She was folding laundry, eating a snack, and playing with her dog and fell asleep and never woke up," Dreith's sister, Sage Dreith, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"I had to pound on her door and find her dead in her apartment, and that's not what she deserved. That's not what anyone deserves."
Gonzalez faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on all the charges she is facing. Valverde-Nuno faces up to eight years in prison. Both of them will be arraigned on Nov. 1.
Fentanyl, which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, has driven the latest phase of the opioid crisis.
It was responsible for 71,238 of the record 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States last year, according to the CDC.