Marion County announced a milestone in their fight against the opioid epidemic Thursday—they say they are charging a drug dealer with first degree murder.
"Let me make it clear to the dealers, to the ones out there. I will not stop, I will not hold back any resource to put you in jail, to charge you with a homicide, to charge you with a murder and put your ass in my jail," said Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods.
Officers say 28-year-old Zachary Powers is charged with the murder of Gloria Rivera after she overdosed on the drug he sold to her that contained fentanyl. Officials say Rivera’s 10-year-old daughter found her dead in a bathtub in their home.
Officers say they took Rivera’s phone to find texts with Powers confirming she met with Powers an hour before her death.
Investigators say they posed as Rivera on that phone and arranged another purchase with Powers, where they were able to meet and arrest him.
“It was very gratifying for me yesterday shortly after 6 to tell him he’s been charged with first degree murder,” said Major Crimes Captain Greg Martin. “The reaction he had on his face was worth every second of every minute of every hour that my detectives and victim advocates have been out and hopefully do some justice for Gloria’s family.”
Donna Rodriquez, whose son just died of an overdose, is hoping her son’s case will end just as victoriously.
“My son Nicholas was 31 years old and he was killed on December 4th by a fentanyl overdose,” Rodriquez said.
Just like in Powers’s case, Rodriquez said the dealer was able to be tracked down through Nicholas’s phone. Rodriquez is praying for this man to also be charged with murder.
“Nick was not a nobody,” Rodriquez said. “People loved him. He was energetic, he was funny, he was caring, he was a wonderful father. All of our lives are shattered.”
Marion County wants to keep other families from being shattered—and they have a message to the dealers.
“You will not kill my citizens,” Sheriff Woods said. “You will not harm my people in Marion County. You continue to do it? I promise you, we will breathe down your neck and you will not have a peaceful moment in your life.”