SAN JOSE -- Authorities in Santa Clara County on Tuesday afternoon arrested a suspect on murder charges for selling fentanyl to a victim who fatally overdosed on the drug.
According to a press release issued by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, detectives arrested 28-year-old San Jose resident Manuel Anthony Rodriguez Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for murder after he allegedly sold a lethal amount of fentanyl to his victim, who died as a result of the overdose. The release called the homicide charge "a landmark case in an effort to hold perpetrators accountable for their intentional criminal actions that have known, deadly consequences."
Detectives with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Special Enforcement Division spent months investigating the suspected fentanyl dealer in connection with the April 2022 overdose death of 61-year-old Cupertino resident Jeffrey Diaz. As evidence was collected, authorities focused on Rodriguez as their primary suspect with the case ultimately presented to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for consideration on formal charging.
Diaz was found dead in his apartment on April 26 of this year by county sheriff's deputies. Investigators located text messages in his phone from about 10 days earlier that appeared to show a fentanyl deal, and data showed that he stopped using his cellphone that day, prosecutors said.
Surveillance footage was later found showing the drug deal, and prosecutors say Rodriguez knew of several fatal overdoses tied to fentanyl and had previously overdosed himself.
An arrest warrant was issued for homicide and several drug trafficking charges. Additional details of the case are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
"Fentanyl is poison. When someone sells poison to someone knowing that they could die -- and they die -- they will be prosecuted," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a news release announcing the murder charge.
Rodriguez is set for arraignment Wednesday afternoon, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the anonymous Sheriff's Office tip line at (408) 808-4420.
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