A 32-year-old Norco woman accused of abusing and allowing her 17-month-old child to ingest fentanyl, causing the toddler's death, was charged today with second-degree murder and other offenses.
Jennifer Johanna Allen was arrested Tuesday following a Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigation at her residence in the 100 block of Eighth Street.
Along with murder, Allen is charged with child abuse and a sentence- enhancing great bodily injury allegation.
The defendant, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail, was slated to make her initial court appearance Thursday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
According to sheriff's Sgt. Steve Brosche, patrol deputies were called to Allen's home about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to investigate reports of a child in medical distress.
Brosche said deputies found the victim, whose identity was not immediately released, unconscious and "unresponsive."
Efforts by county fire paramedics to resuscitate the child failed, the sergeant said.
"During the course of the investigation, evidence was obtained showing fentanyl played a role in the juvenile's death,'' he said.
Allen was taken into custody without incident.
She has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County. P
rosecutors have charged nearly two dozen people countywide with second-degree murder in connection with fentanyl poisonings since February 2021.
Fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs, principally in China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency says the substances are smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by cartels. It's 80-100 times more potent than morphine and can be mixed into any number of street narcotics and prescription drugs, without a user knowing what he or she is consuming. Ingestion of only two milligrams can be fatal.
According to federal agencies, fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 years old.
I-Team investigator Karen Devine recently investigated local efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis in the Coachella Valley. Hear from Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin and State Assemblymember Greg Wallis, as well as a parent who lost their child, in her special report, "Fatal Flaw."
On Tuesday, a Coachella man was named among 12 new federal cases targeting dealers in fentanyl overdoses.
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