A man accused of supplying a deadly dose of fentanyl to an 18-year-old Moreno Valley resident was being held Friday in lieu of $1 million bail.
Moisses Haro, 20, of Moreno Valley was arrested and booked into the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta Thursday on suspicion of second-degree murder.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, in the predawn hours of last April 6, patrol deputies were summoned to the 22000 block of Downing Street, near Towngate Boulevard, to investigate reports of a comatose man in a residence.
Deputies and paramedics arrived within minutes and discovered the victim, Juan Jose Villasenor, dead.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Marcuse said that an autopsy ultimately determined the cause of death to be fentanyl poisoning.
Central Homicide Unit detectives took over the investigation, eventually gathering sufficient evidence to identify Haro as the person “responsible for selling the fentanyl that killed Villasenor,” Marcuse alleged.
How the suspect and victim knew one another was not disclosed.
Haro was taken into custody without incident at his residence on Rotuberry Drive Thursday afternoon.
The case has been submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
D.A. Mike Hestrin confirmed Thursday that, since February 2021, just over 20 people countywide have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with alleged fentanyl poisonings.
Sheriff Chad Bianco said there have been 338 fentanyl-related deaths so far this year. In 2021, there were just over 400 — a 200-fold increase from 2016.
Statistics published in May by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there were roughly 108,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2021, and fentanyl poisoning accounted for over 80,000 of them.
The synthetic opioid is manufactured in overseas labs, including in China, and according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it’s smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by drug cartels. The substance is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and can be mixed into any number of street narcotics and prescription drugs, without the receiver knowing what they are consuming. Ingestion of only two milligrams can be fatal.
The county initiated a public awareness campaign, “The Faces of Fentanyl,” on Thursday, emphasizing the perils of fentanyl use. The campaign web portal, www.FacesOfFentanyl.net, offers resources, including substance abuse counseling options, that are available to residents countywide.