RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A 21-year-old Eastvale man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the overdose death of an 18-year-old, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
Joseph Michael Costanza is facing four felony charges: one count of murder; one count of sales of a controlled substance, fentanyl, to a minor with an enhancement of drug sales to a minor at least four years younger and an allegation of causing great bodily injury; and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, fentanyl, for sales.
According to prosecutors, 18-year-old Angel Vasquez, was found unresponsive Oct. 4, 2020 at a home in Eastvale. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead about an hour later. A 16-year-old was also found in the home, also suffering from an overdose, but survived.
“He was a good kid, just finishing school,” Eduardo Vazquez, the victim’s father, said. “This needs to stop, it just needs to stop.”
This is the first time in Riverside County that an accused drug dealer has been charged for allegedly providing fentanyl to a person who subsequently overdosed and died.
“There is no safe way to use or to sell fentanyl. Simply put, it is lethal,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. “Those who sell fentanyl should know that and, if they choose to sell it anyway and someone dies, the dealer should be prosecuted for murder.”
Prosecutors allege that Costanza was selling fentanyl-laced drugs, known as M30 pills, despite knowing the danger of fentanyl and the potential for overdose.
Deputies with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant on Costanza’s home Feb. 11 and seized evidence related to the selling of illegal drugs as well as M30 pills found in his bedroom, the district attorney’s office said.
According to the sheriff’s department, a woman died from an overdose at Costanza’s Eastvale home in July 2020 and there have been several other non-fatal overdose incidents at the home.
Costanza faces up to 17 years in prison for the drug-related counts and 15 years to life for the second-degree murder count, according to the district attorney’s office.