Brighton toddler dies after ingesting fentanyl; parents charged – The Denver Gazette

Alonzo Montoya, 31, and Nicole Casias, 30.

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Alonzo Montoya, 31, and Nicole Casias, 30.
Prosecutors on Thursday charged a Brighton couple in connection with the death of their 1-year-old daughter, who died after ingesting fentanyl in January.
Alonzo Montoya, 31, and Nicole Casias, 30, face charges of child abuse resulting in death and distribution of a controlled substance. Both charges are felony offenses, according to the district attorney’s office for Adams and Broomfield counties.
The Adams County Coroner’s Office determined the child’s blood had 10 times the amount of fentanyl necessary to kill an adult at the time of her death, officials said in a news release.
Montoya and Casias “participated in illicit drug activity with the child present in the home prior to and after her death,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Fentanyl has flooded Colorado. Fatal doses involving the drug have skyrocketed since 2015, and last year, more than 800 Coloradans died after …
The couple were arrested Wednesday, according to the Brighton Police Department.
Officers were called to the couple’s home in early January after the parents found their 23-month-old daughter not breathing and unresponsive. First responders were unable to revive the child, police said.
Montoya and Casias were being held in the Adams County jail. A judge set Montoya’s bail at $250,000 and Casias’ at $100,000.
The arrests come as Colorado leaders, law enforcement and public health officials grapple with how best to address the spiraling fentanyl overdose crisis. The synthetic opioid has contributed to an increasing amount of deaths in recent years and, in 2021, was involved in roughly 50% of the state’s more than 1,600 fatal overdoses.
The drug is unique: It’s far more potent than heroin or morphine, and 2 milligrams is generally considered to be a fatal dose. It’s also becoming an increasingly dominant presence in the illicit drug market, replacing legitimate pills — now much more tightly controlled — and heroin, which takes more effort to cultivate and process.
While many people with opioid-use disorders knowingly take fentanyl, particularly because of the relative scarcity of heroin, some are unwitting users.
Five people found dead in a Commerce City apartment in February are believed to have overdosed on the drug without realizing they were taking it. In Lakewood, 16-year-old Kimberly Jimenez Figueroa died last week after overdosing on drugs laced with fentanyl, school officials wrote in a letter to parents.
And in Douglas County, 17-year-old Tai Burns was found dead Tuesday of a suspected drug overdose in his Highlands Ranch home, Sheriff Tony Spurlock said. Investigators found blue pills with an “M” on one side and “30” on the other at the crime scene, Spurlock said. Authorities believe the pills contained fentanyl.
Brighton Mayor Greg Mills said it’s terrible to see a child’s life lost to drugs.
“This fentanyl thing is getting bad,” Mills said. “I didn’t even know what fentanyl was until just about a month ago.”
Mills said drugs have been a problem in Brighton and the Denver metro area for a long time and that he has seen needles in the parking lot where he works. He said more needs to be done to address fentanyl and other illegal drugs.
“We’ve had this war on drugs. We’ve arrested people. Obviously, that doesn’t work, so we need to find ways to treat them,” Mills said. “We ultimately need to go to the source and cut it off at the neck, whatever that is, and I’m not the expert on what that is.”
In a statement, District Attorney Brian Mason said: “Fentanyl is killing our kids. This legal drug is ravaging Adams County, the Denver metro area, and our entire state. We see tragedies every single day because of fentanyl. Parents need to warn their kids about this dangerous drug. We also need to strengthen our laws to fight this public safety emergency.”
Brenda Heiney and her husband have lived along Seventh Avenue in Brighton — directly across from where the toddler died — since 2005. She did not have a solution for the state’s fentanyl problem.
“If somebody knows how to win the war on drugs, then go for it, because I don’t know what you can do,” Heiney said. “You can protect yourself and your own family, but you can’t protect what others around you are doing. So, it’s complicated.”
Denver Gazette reporters Seth Klamann, Lindsey Toomer and Carol McKinley contributed to this report.
A 16-year-old Lakewood girl has died of an apparent overdose of drugs that were laced with fentanyl.
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