Authorities are searching for a Desert Hot Springs man wanted for allegedly supplying the fentanyl that led to the death of a 17-year-old girl in 2022.
Michael Garcia, 22, was identified as the suspect in the fentanyl poisoning of a 17-year-old girl in an unincorporated area near Desert Hot Spring in August 2022, the Riverside County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday night.
According to a declaration in support of his arrest filed by master investigator James Peters, he responded to the girl's residence Aug. 21 and spoke to her boyfriend, Garcia, who was present when deputies arrived.
"Under Miranda, Michael told me he drove the night before he purchased M-30 pills, which he stated he knew contained Fentanyl, and provided them to (the girl), who smoked them,'' Peters said in the declaration. "Michael said he awoke the next morning to find (her) overdosing."
Peters claimed that Garcia also told him that, knowing the girl was only 17 years old, he had a sexual relationship with her for several months and was buying her Fentanyl even though he knew she had been released from a residential rehab for Fentanyl addiction a few weeks before her fatal overdose.
Garcia was identified as being the suspect in the case after a months-long investigation, RSO confirmed. Officials said the investigation was presented to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and charges have been filed against Garcia, however, law enforcement has been unable to locate him.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Garcia. Anyone with information on Garcia’s whereabouts is asked to call Riverside Sheriff’s Dispatch at 951-776-1099.
Officials said the investigation remains ongoing. Additional suspects have been identified and further arrests are anticipated.
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call Master Investigator Jim Peters at 951-955 1700.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind citizens of the dangers of illicit narcotics, many of which may contain Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine and can cause death or serious bodily harm.
According to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, about 500 people died from fentanyl poisoning in Riverside County in 2022.
So far this year, there have been 68 fentanyl-related deaths in the county, according to data from January 1 to Feb. 28.
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."