(CNN) — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder for selling a fentanyl-laced pill to a child who died of a drug overdose, California prosecutors said.
The 12-year-old girl who ingested most of the pill was the youngest person to overdose and die in 2020 in Santa Clara County, the district attorney’s office said in a news release.
The child, who was not identified, bought and consumed a pill with a label consistent with the painkiller oxycodone. She was declared dead after she was rushed to a hospital.
“After thousands of deaths, everyone should know that fentanyl is a deadly poison,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in the statement.
The 12-year-old, along with two teens, contacted the suspect on November 14, 2020, and bought an “M-30” pill, according to statement from the district attorney’s office.
“The group videoed her lining up the crushed pill for ingestion,” the statement said. Afterward, the girl passed out and began snoring, which is a sign of fentanyl overdose, the statement said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and it’s commonly used to resemble prescription drugs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is often added to other drugs by dealers “because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous,” the CDC said.
Overall, opioids continue to be the driving cause of fatal drug overdoses in the United States.
Last year saw a record high of drug overdose deaths, with more than 100,000 people dying from April 2020 to April 2021, according to provisional data published in November by the CDC.
It was a 28.5% spike compared to the same period a year earlier and nearly doubling over the past five years.
Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, also caused nearly two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths in the same 12-month timeframe period, according to the data.
Prosecutors around the nation have signaled a greater willingness to bring the serious charge of murder against dealers who supply buyers with potent drugs that can easily kill.
“These dealers are essentially handing a loaded gun to unsuspecting victims knowing that they will probably die and they don’t care,” said Orange County California District Attorney Todd Spitzer late last year in announcing a more aggressive prosecution effort by his office.