MARION CO., Fla., (WCJB) --- In Marion County a joint operation between the sheriff's office and the Ocala Police Department continues the fight to combat the opioid epidemic and that teamwork has led to another overdose death arrest.
OPD held a press conference at its headquarters to announce that they've made an arrest in a drug overdose death case that they've been investigating since October.
29-year-old Zachary Powers was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the overdose death of 39-year-old Gloria Rivera in October. Rivera's 10-year-old daughter found her dead in a bathtub at their home.
According to OPD reports, drug overdose was the cause of her death and after months of a thorough investigation, evidence revealed that Powers was the drug dealer.
"If you come into Ocala or you come into Marion County and you're selling drugs and those drugs end up causing someone to lose their life you will go to jail, you're going to jail, not just for dealing drugs but you're going to go to jail for murder," stated Greg Graham, OPD Chief.
"Now let me make it clear to the dealers to the ones out there. I will not stop. I will not hold back any resources to put you in jail, to charge you with homicide, to charge you with the murder and I will put your a** in my jail, plain and simple as that," stated Billy Woods, Marion Co. Sheriff.
This is the second case since the police department announced in 2017 that overdose deaths would be investigated as homicides.
Last year, in April, OPD indicted 47-year-old David Long after police said he sold heroin and fentanyl to a woman and it led to her death. That was the first case where detectives found evidence that allowed for charges to be filed against a drug dealer.
OPD is the first department in the state of Florida to indict a suspect with a homicide for an overdose death case.
At the end of 2018 officials said there were 182 overdoses and 28 overdose associated deaths reported in Marion County.