SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Parents who have lost children to fentanyl are fighting to hold drug dealers accountable, and they're pushing to get the attention of California lawmakers.
Families of victims of crime were honored during a crime victims ceremony outside of the Orange County District's Attorney's office on Monday. Among them was Matt Capelouto, who is fighting to make Senate Bill 44 into law.
Alexandra's Bill, as it's known, is named after his daughter who died from a fentanyl poisoning in 2019.
"California now leads the way in the nation in the number of fentanyl deaths, and we don't have a single law that holds drug dealers accountable for those deaths," Capelouto said.
The bill gives drug dealers a warning to stop selling fentanyl. If they do continue selling drugs, and it results in someone's death, they could be charged with murder.
The bill has so far failed to gain enough support in the California Public Safety Committee.
"They need to do their job. They need to pass sensible legislation that will hold drug dealers accountable for the mass number of deaths that they are causing in our state," Capelouto said.
In a statement, Sen. Tom Umberg from Santa Ana, who co-authored the bill said:
"I am hopeful Californians will see a different outcome for repeat fentanyl offenders going into tomorrow's hearing. This measure is unprecedented in that it has 21 Senate co-authors - a majority of the house. It's clear that the Senate and the vast majority of California's local governments and public safety agencies are calling for this added tool to help them tackle the fentanyl crisis. By mirroring California's Watson Advisement for repeat DUI offenders, we're employing a time-tested tool that has prevented thousands of deaths. SB 44 is just one of many necessary tools to address fentanyl this year - but it's one of the only remaining options that would hold drug dealers accountable for their repeated crimes in this crisis. I'm optimistic that my colleagues on the Senate Public Safety Committee will trust me to keep working on this issue in the next couple of months to get this right and to help save lives."
According to the California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, fentanyl-related deaths reached nearly 6,000 statewide in the 12 months ending in the second quarter 2022. It is nearly 19 times more than the total for the same period in 2017.
Perla Mendoza's 20-year-old son, Elijah Figueroa, died from a fentanyl overdose in September 2020.
"I witnessed my son's perpetrator continue to sell his substances," Mendoza said.
She believes Alexandra's Bill would keep dangerous drug dealers off the street.
"He continued with business as usual for two and half years until he was finally arrested and when he was arrested he had enough fentanyl in his possession to kill over 250,000 people," Mendoza said.
Lawmakers are set to hear about the bill and vote on it on Tuesday.