One father is seeking justice after his daughter was sold a counterfeit oxycodone pill laced with fentanyl. That pill resulted in her death nearly two years ago.
The man who sold her that pill has been arrested and now faces federal charges.
“I had to be very patient over this time. I’m glad it’s him behind bars and it didn’t end up being me behind bars,” said Matt Capelouto, a father from Temecula.
Capelouto says it’s been nearly two years to the day since his daughter Alex was home on Christmas break. She was sold a pill she thought was oxycodone on Snapchat.
“I rushed home...my wife had gone into her room and found her dead on her bed,” Capelouto told Madison Weil last month.
Last Friday, an arrest was finally made in Alex’s case: 22-year-old Brandon McDowell plead not guilty that same day. Capelouto, his wife and other three daughters were present in the courtroom.
“It was good to confront him after all this time. It was hard to tell if there were any emotions conveyed on his end,” said Capelouto.
“What does this arrest represent for you and your family?” asked Weil.
“Justice…it’s not about revenge it’s about justice,” he said.
McDowell has been charged with one count of distributing fentanyl resulting in death. Because this is now a federal investigation and case, the charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum possible sentence of life without parole.
While Capelouto says his family will never recover from losing Alex, he knows her death is creating change within the system.
“I do know my daughter’s case set a precedent. I would never have wanted it to happen this way...but she’s saving lives,” he said.
In Riverside County, drug dealers who sell a fatal dose of fentanyl can now be charged with homicide. Capelouto also hopes his daughter’s death encourages other parents to have these difficult conversations with their kids.
All it takes is 2 mg of fentanyl to kill you. The DEA estimates that right now, 40% of pills being sold on the street are laced with fentanyl.
“If you cannot 100% guarantee that your child will not try one drug one time...you can’t guarantee that your child won’t be a victim of fentanyl,” said Capelouto.
Fentanyl overdose is now the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 45, according to an analysis of CDC data.
Capelouto added he and others impacted are currently working on a bill, SB350, that addresses the penalties for drug dealers. Anyone interested in working with their group is encouraged to reach out to him: email@example.com.