Man arrested after allegedly supplying fentanyl in overdose
Authorities have arrested a man they say supplied the widely abused painkiller fentanyl to a woman who died of an overdose last fall, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.
But while sheriff’s investigators sought to implicate the suspect in the death, prosecutors said they only have grounds to charge him with drug possession crimes.
Jon Oxenford, 25, of East Palo Alto, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the Sept. 26 overdose death of a woman in San Carlos, the Sheriff’s Office said.
An investigation involving the Sheriff’s Office and county coroner confirmed that she died after taking fentanyl, a synthetic opioid similar to morphine and heroin but is 50 to 100 times more potent, and is typically reserved for people with severe pain following surgery or for patients needing palliative care, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Investigators eventually tied the fentanyl the victim consumed to Oxen- ford. When he was arrested Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office said they recovered “more narcotics and narcotic paraphernalia.” He was booked into the San Mateo County jail on suspicion of transporting a controlled substance, possessing a controlled substance, and possessing an opium pipe, and is being held on $115,000 bail, according to jail records.
The Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release that Oxenford also was booked on suspicion of inflicting great bodily injury, but that is not reflected in jail records, and District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said “he’s not charged with anything related to that.” Ultimately, he said, short of Oxenford injecting the drugs into the woman himself, such a case would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.
“It’s really hard to prove under California law,” Wagstaffe said. “Our belief is that he’s where she obtained the drugs in the overdose. But while he may have provided the resource, he was not the instrument of her death.”
Fentanyl has become a prominent symbol of what authorities and political leaders have dubbed a national opioid crisis. It has been implicated in a string of celebrity deaths including Prince, Tom Petty, Mac Miller and Lil Peep. Two Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies almost died after inhaling airborne fentanyl during a raid last summer, but were saved by the nasal inhalant antidote Narcan, which is now routinely carried by law-enforcement officers and credited with reviving overdose victims they have encountered in the field.
Jon Oxenford, 25, of East Palo Alto, was arrested Jan. 9 for allegedly supplying fentanyl to a woman who died of an overdose in San Carlos on Sept. 26, 2018.