SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A suspected drug dealer has been arrested for allegedly selling fentanyl-laced pills to teens at Los Gatos High School, causing several to overdose, according to authorities.
Simon Armendariz, 23, is facing felony drug charges after an investigation launched by the Santa Clara Police Department determined a 15-year-old girl overdosed in a bathroom on a pill that was traced back to the suspect.
On Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Eunice Lee asked the judge to deny bail for the suspect, a San Jose resident, keeping him off the streets.
"I don't feel like there is a way we can really protect the safety of the public, specifically vulnerable victims- minors here- that we've talked about that are being peddled poison... fentanyl," she told ABC7 News.
Investigators said Armendariz sold drugs at locations throughout downtown Los Gatos, including the school's parking lot, and even at a nearby church.
"Very thankful here that we are not dealing with a homicide case," Deputy DA Lee added. "But we all know the dangers of fentanyl."
Armendariz is being charged with four counts of felony drug sales after the group of students overdosed and survived. Victims are said to be as young as 15 years old.
"That's a high school sophomore," State Senator Dave Cortese said. "That's somebody that's just short of having a driver's license. It's somebody that usually has a little bit of pocket change and can figure out how to, you know, acquire drugs. Or maybe they're just trying to self-medicate because they've got other issues on their mind."
State Sen. Cortese pointed to behavioral health and mental health issues that have only been exasperated over the pandemic.
This isn't the first time Los Gatos High has made headlines. In October 2021, a student's mother was arrested, and accused of throwing alcohol-fueled sex parties for underage teens.
ABC7 News has reached out to the school's principal about the recent overdoses, but he has not yet responded. The district superintendent was unavailable.
Deputy DA Lee said students were aware the pills could be deadly. Some even carried Narcan in case they overdosed.
"What does that signal to you," ABC7 News Reporter Amanda del Castillo asked.
Lee responded, "I think that shows that this is seriously an epidemic."
"It does call into question whether or not they were deceived, or whether or not they knew that they were ingesting fentanyl in the first place," Sen. Cortese added. "And to the extent that the young people know about it, they're still taking that risk, or they're encouraging their peers to take that risk... It's a big problem."
Reasons why State Sen. Cortese introduced Senate Bill 10, which aims to expand education and prevention efforts in schools, also to increase access to Narcan and more.
In a recent release by Cortese's office, the bill will include the following:
- Requiring local education agencies (school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools) to embed opioid overdose prevention and treatment in their School Safety Plans, including synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl; and
- Distributing Opioid Antagonist Training & School Resource Guides to all local education agencies regarding the emergency use of opioid antagonists, such as naloxone, on school campuses; and
- Distributing safety advice to families regarding opioid overdose prevention including through student orientation materials and through posting online information; and
- Establishing a State Working Group on Fentanyl Overdose/Abuse Prevention focused on public education, awareness, prevention and minimizing overdoses; and
- Setting up a framework to incentivize of County Working Groups on Fentanyl Overdose/Abuse Prevention like the successful model in Santa Clara County through a new state grant program.
County officials said it's Fentanyl Working Group last visited Los Gatos High School in October.
The overwhelming message from officials: one pill can kill.
Lee told ABC7 News, "Unlike other types of controlled substances, one-time experimenting might be your last time."
"This is not a war on drugs, this is a struggle to save lives," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "There are no good excuses with fentanyl. It kills and everybody knows it: the dealers, the manufacturers. We will find them, arrest them, and hold them accountable for selling poison for profit. I want to thank the Santa Clara Police Department, the Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team, and the investigators from my Office for their continued work in addressing the fentanyl epidemic."
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