A felon accused of supplying a fatal dose of fentanyl to a Perris boy was charged today with murder and other offenses.
Daniel Francisco Ramirez, 21, of Perris, was arrested Monday following a Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigation that began in May.
Along with the murder count, Ramirez was charged with furnishing drugs to a minor and three counts of child cruelty.
He pleaded not guilty during an arraignment before Superior Court Judge Jason Armand, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Nov. 15 at the Riverside Hall of Justice and left the defendant's bail set at $1 million.
He is being held at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to sheriff's Sgt. Sean Liebrand, on the afternoon of May 21, patrol deputies were called to a residence in the 2500 block of Spectacular Bid Street to investigate reports of a juvenile, whom authorities didn't name, unconscious and near death.
Deputies and paramedics attempted to resuscitate the teenager, managing to keep him alive. He was taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he remained comatose until dying less than a week later, sergeant said.
"The sheriff's coroner's bureau determined (the victim) died as a result of fentanyl poisoning,'' Liebrand said. "Investigators worked to identify the suspect responsible for selling the fentanyl that killed the teen."
Earlier this month, the alleged fentanyl supplier was identified as Ramirez, culminating in detectives requesting charges from the District Attorney's Office.
Ramirez was taken into custody without incident at a property on Nandina Avenue, and the complaint was filed Thursday morning at the downtown Riverside courthouse.
There was no word on how he and the victim were acquainted.
According to court records, Ramirez has a prior conviction for possession of controlled substances for sale. The basis for the child abuse counts in the complaint was not clear.
Since February 2021, roughly two dozen individuals countywide have been charged with murder in connection with fentanyl poisonings. In August, the District Attorney's Office won its first second-degree murder conviction against a fentanyl dealer, Vicente David Romero, who provided a fatal dose of the synthetic opioid to a 26-year-old Temecula woman in 2020.
Romero is due for sentencing next month.
According to public safety officials, there were 503 confirmed fentanyl-related fatalities countywide last year, compared to just under 400 in 2021, a 200-fold increase from 2016, when there were only two.
Fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which says the substance is smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by cartels. Fentanyl is 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.