Temecula Father Works to Fight Fentanyl Crisis After Daughter's Overdose Death

The deadly synthetic opioid is now being found in candy-like, multi-colored pills

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A Temecula father who lost his daughter to fentanyl is part of a nationwide group working hard to transform the fight against the deadly drug.

“My daughter was poisoned," Matt Capelouto said. "Had she received the drug that she thought she was getting, she would be alive today."

NBC 7's Amber Frias has more on the warning a school district is sending to parents about so-called "rainbow fentanyl" pills.

It was winter of 2019 when Alexandra Capelouto had reached out to a drug dealer on social media in search of Percocet.

“What she thought she was getting was a prescription pharmaceutical drug, which under normal usage would not have killed her. Instead, she received a counterfeit pill made of a lethal dose of fentanyl,” the father said.

The fentanyl killed her.

There are warnings across the country and concerns at local school districts about "rainbow fentanyl", a multi-colored pill found in more than 21 states, according to the DEA. While fentanyl is still more commonly disguised as oxycodone or another prescription drug, sightings of the rainbow pills are on the increase.

Alexandra was 20 years old. She's described as witty, smart and caring. She was studying sociology on a full scholarship at Arizona State University and aspired to help children in the foster care system.

“I still look at it as that she's still saving lives, just in a different way,” Capelouto said.

Matt Capelouto
Motivated by his daughter's tragedy, Capelouto is now the president of Drug Induced Homicide, a group that seeks to put pressure on prosecutors to hold drug dealers criminally responsible for their customers' overdose deaths. He joined the group after his daughter's fentanyl-related overdose in 2019.

Motivated by his daughter's tragedy, Capelouto is now the president of Drug Induced Homicide, a group that seeks to put pressure on prosecutors to hold drug dealers criminally responsible for their customers' overdose deaths.

“Am I to believe that this drug dealer's only customer was my daughter? No," Capelouto said. “And we even know that after he knew my daughter was dead, he continued to reach out to his supplier to purchase more of these pills.”

The man who allegedly provided the fentanyl-laced pills to Alexandra is expected to face trial in federal court in Riverside County. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office say they are charging illegal drug dealers with voluntary manslaughter or murder when appropriate. The DA’s office has filed seven homicide cases to date and gained convictions in all of them.

“It breaks my heart because, you know, in our case, this happened back in 2019 and I keep thinking we're gonna see the tide turn, we're gonna stop seeing so many [overdose deaths] and we don't. It’s just getting worse and worse and worse,” he said.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office reported 33 fentanyl-caused deaths in 2016. By 2021, the yearly death toll jumped drastically, exceeding 800, provisionally. Capelouto says he’s committed to helping save other young people’s lives.

“As strange as it might sound, it's one of the things I thank my daughter for. She, in her short 20 years of life, going through all of this has taught me far more than, as a dad, I was ever able to teach her,” Capelouto said.

In an effort to bring awareness to this issue, Capelouto will be hosting a 60-mile walk from Temecula to the federal courthouse in downtown Riverside.

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