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California Officials Somberly Mark First Fentanyl Murder Conviction

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Placer County, CA — Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and others, are weighing in on the first fentanyl murder conviction in California.

22-year-old Nathaniel Evan Cabacungan pleaded guilty in Placer County to supplying the drug to a 15-year-old girl, Jewels Marie Wolf, who later died. He also failed to intervene, or notify officials, when he could see that she was struggling after taking the drug.

Cabacungan faces 15 years to life in prison as part of a second-degree murder plea deal with the Placer County District Attorney’s Office.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta stated at a press conference, “In California, and across the nation, we are witnessing a devastating rise in young people dying by accidental fentanyl overdose. We can’t stress enough how dangerous fentanyl is. It is cheap, it is potent, and it is lethal; a horrifically tragic combination.”

Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, who represents the Mother Lode region, adds, “My heart goes out to Jewels’ family, and surviving families of those killed by fentanyl, for the fight they faced in getting this outcome. We must remain steadfast in our efforts to protect our communities, particularly our youth, from the devastating impact of fentanyl. Eliminating this dangerous substance and holding those accountable for its distribution is a critical step in the right direction. However, we must remain vigilant in our efforts and continue to move forward rather than backward. It is imperative that legislative action focuses on enacting common-sense policies that address this health crisis.”

Law enforcement officials report that fentanyl, often made in foreign labs, is smuggled into the US and pressed into pills that give it the appearance of being a legitimate prescription opioid tablet. It is also sometimes made to appear like candy.

Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire stressed that Tuesday’s milestone/sentencing was a time for “reflection and recognition” and in no way a celebration.