Attorney General Bonta Announces Arrest of Placer County Suspect for Fentanyl Homicide

Thursday, October 26, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

California DOJ-led task forces continue work to hold fentanyl dealers accountable

More than 9 million fentanyl pills seized, 1,213 pounds of powder seized, and 200 arrests made by DOJ task forces since April 2022 

ROSEVILLE — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrest of a suspect in Placer County for providing a lethal dose of fentanyl that killed a Rocklin father in July of 2023. The suspect was arrested as a result of an investigation by the Placer Special Investigations Unit, led by the California Department of Justice (DOJ), which uncovered evidence that the suspect was aware of the lethal nature of the fentanyl that caused the death of the individual.

“This arrest must send a strong message to California communities: Those who knowingly distribute dangerous fentanyl will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We have seen too many deaths from this lethal drug: children, parents, and friends taken from their loved ones too soon. I can’t say it enough: Californians must steer clear of cheap, dangerous, and lethal illicit drug. We will continue to work with partners throughout California to get this drug out of our communities.”

California DOJ’s Bureau of Investigation PSIU and the Special Operations Unit (SOU) arrested the suspect on October 25, 2023 after he was located in his vehicle in Sacramento. During a search of the suspect’s vehicle, agents located one ounce of fentanyl powder, a quarter ounce of cocaine, and methamphetamine in his possession at the time of arrest. Agents booked the suspect into the Placer County Jail on charges of homicide, possession of opioids for sale, and sale of opiates. The Placer County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.

The Placer Special Investigation Unit (PSIU) is a California DOJ-led narcotics and high-risk probation/post release community supervision task force.  The team is supervised by a California DOJ Bureau of Investigation Task Force Commander who leads task force agents from Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Roseville Police Department, Rocklin Police Department, Auburn Police Department, and Placer County Probation, with support from the California National Guard Counter Drug Team, and the Placer County District Attorney's Office. Additional work by the task force in Placer County includes:

  • The August 10, 2022 arrest of Nathaniel Cabacungan for the June 2022 homicide of J. Wolf, a 15-year-old female from Roseville. On October 10, 2023, Attorney General Bonta and Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire announced a 15-year sentence of Cabacungan.
  • Felony arrests on August 18, 2023 of two suspected narcotics traffic and the seizure of various illicit drugs including fentanyl, as well as illegal handguns, and large amounts of cash.
  • The arrest and manslaughter conviction of Virgil Xavier Bordner, after a 17-year-old high school senior, Zach Didier, tragically lost his life in a fentanyl overdose in Placer County in 2020.

Fentanyl is a powerful and potentially addictive synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin. A small amount of fentanyl, just two milligrams, can result in overdose and potentially death. Fentanyl can be found in different forms, including pills, powder, and liquid, and is produced legally through the legal pharmaceutical market and illegally through the illicit drug market. Illicit fentanyl has been found in many drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, and cocaine. Fentanyl mixed with any drug increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose. Illicit fentanyl has also reportedly been produced in rainbow colors, potentially aimed at increasing consumption among users, especially young adults. 

In California in 2020, 5,502 people died due to opioid overdose, and 3,946 died due to fentanyl overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation has experienced the overdose epidemic in three distinct but interconnected waves: an increase in deaths from prescription opioid overdoses since the 1990s, an increase in heroin deaths starting in 2010, and a more recent surge in deaths from other illicit opioids, such as fentanyl.

Attorney General Bonta is addressing this challenge through an all-in, multifaceted approach using ongoing enforcement, litigation, and effective public policy strategies for prevention. In April 2021, Attorney General Bonta established the statewide Fentanyl Enforcement Program that is designed to detect, deter, disrupt, and dismantle criminal fentanyl operations and prevent fentanyl from reaching California neighborhoods and communities. The program is housed in California DOJ’s Bureau of Investigation, which works with allied task forces, including local and federal law enforcement partners through California. Since April 2022, the California DOJ task forces have seized approximately 9,348,852 fentanyl pills, 1,213 pounds of powder, and made over 200 arrests.

In addition to this on-the-ground work, Attorney General Bonta continues advancing effective public policy and working with national partners to hold the opioid industry accountable for their role in creating the opioid crisis and its impacts. To date, California DOJ has secured over $32 billion through nationwide settlements, including $2 billion for California, bringing needed funding back to communities for treatment and prevention strategies.

Attorney General Bonta works with policymakers and state leaders to address fentanyl and improve education about the dangers of the drug in California. For the 2023 legislative session, Attorney General Bonta supported the following pieces of legislation which were signed into law by Governor Newsom:

  • Assembly Bill 33, authored by Assemblymember Jasmeet Bains, establishes the Fentanyl Misuse and Overdose Prevention Task Force to be cochaired by the Attorney General and the State Public Health Officer
  • Assembly Bill 663, authored by Assemblymember Matt Haney, allows for certain controlled substances approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder to be carried and dispensed at county-operated mobile pharmacy units and authorizes the operation of multiple mobile units within one jurisdiction.
  • Assembly Bill 701, authored by Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, applies the existing weight enhancements that increase the penalty and fine for trafficking substances containing heroin, cocaine base, and cocaine to fentanyl.
  • Senate Bill 10, authored by Senator Dave Cortese, establishes Melanie’s Law, requiring school safety plans of schools serving students in grades seven to 12 to include a protocol for responding to a student’s opioid overdose; and requires the California Department of Education and the California Health and Human Services Agency, subject to an appropriation for this purpose, to establish the State Working Group on Fentanyl Education in Schools.
  • Senate Bill 250, authored by Senator Tom Umberg, expands immunity protections for individuals reporting opioid-related overdoses in cases of medical assistance, and also for individuals reporting substances that test positive for fentanyl to law enforcement.

More information about Attorney General Bonta’s strategies to address the fentanyl crisis can be found at

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