Federal agents arrest a Peoria mother of four, in connection with causing a deadly fentanyl overdose, becoming one of the first drug dealers in the state to face criminal charges for an overdose death.
It is pretty rare for a drug dealer to be charged with causing a deadly overdose, but now, the DEA is ramping up their efforts in the opiate crisis, and going after low-level street dealers.
The suspect in this case is now facing a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for allegedly selling the fentanyl pills that led to one man's death.
Fanny Madrigal-Lopez, 45, is behind bars, accused of selling fentanyl pills to a man out of her Peoria home. That man later died, after taking the pills. A grand jury has indicted Madrigal-Lopez on charges of drug trafficking, and contributing to an overdose death.
"Families deal with these overdose deaths, they need to know who did it, and that persons going to be punished," DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman.
The DEA is now getting involved with local law enforcement officers that respond to overdose calls.
"We're going to come out to that scene and work it backwards and try to find the guy that gave the lethal dose," said Coleman/ "That's a different concept for DEA, and a different idea."
The overdose happened in November 2016, and Madrigal-Lopez was arrested nearly a year later. According to court documents, prosecutors submitted to the court text messages between Madrigal-Lopez and the victim discussing the drugs, as well as photos and the fentanyl pills found in her possession, as evidence.
Madrigal-Lopez's four children were present, when she was taken into custody at her house. An older son told DEA agents that his mother had been selling the pills to help make ends meet.
In the last two months alone, as many as 263 Arizonans died in suspected opiate overdoses. By eliminating the suppliers, the DEA hopes to help curb that number.
"While DEA usually goes after cartel leadership, we're changing our game a little bit," said Coleman. We're coming after right down to the street level. We're going to come after everybody who's selling this poison."
Madrigal-Lopez is scheduled to go to trial in Federal court in October.