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Fresno County sees first fentanyl-related death charge

Fresno County
Posted at 7:14 AM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 10:18:13-04

FRESNO, Calif. (KERO) — The opioid crisis continues to claim lives locally, across California, and nationwide. However, for the first time in Fresno County, a person suspected of selling pills that led to a fentanyl-related death has been charged with murder.

This is not the first time a dealer or supplier has faced a murder charge. It has been done before in San Diego and Riverside counties. Now District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp says she will try to pursue murder charges for every fentanyl-related death in Fresno County.

21-year-old Cassidy Gonzalez is now facing a first-degree murder charge. If convicted, Gonzalez could face 25 years to life in prison. Meanwhile, 25-year-old Alejandro Laverde Nuno has been charged with being an accessory after the fact and could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.

According to Smittcamp, past fentanyl-related convictions have proven that if the two were charged with only drug-related felonies, they would likely never see time in prison.

Sage Dreith, the sister of the victim, says that her sister, Jade Dreith, knew the dangers of fentanyl, but she was made to believe she was taking a painkiller that would relieve her chronic back pain.

"If bringing out her death and telling all of you about it prevents someone else from dying, I am not going to allow her to have died in vain," said Dreith.

Working with investigators was not easy for Dreith's family, but because they did, the District Attorney's Office says this case will now send a message to every person transporting or selling drugs in Fresno County. DA Smittcamp also called on Governor Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers to make systematic changes that will hold dealers and suppliers accountable every time the drugs they sell cause a death.