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Death of inmate in San Diego Central Jail under investigation as possible fentanyl overdose

"The cause and manner of death [rulings] are pending laboratory results and further evaluation," a sheriff's lieutenant said
Credit: Zoë Meyers/inewsource
The San Diego Central Jail is shown on March 11, 2021.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The possibly drug-related death of a 22-year-old inmate at San Diego Central Jail was under investigation Wednesday.

Deputies found Saxon Fredrick Rodriguez of Chula Vista unconscious and unresponsive in his cell at about 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Rodriguez, whose body showed no signs of suspicious injuries, was pronounced dead at the Front Street detention center, Lt. Thomas Seiver said.

During a preliminary postmortem screening, Rodriguez's system tested positive for fentanyl, according to Seiver.

"However, further laboratory testing is required to confirm this," the lieutenant said. "The cause and manner of death [rulings] are pending laboratory results and further evaluation."

Rodriguez had been in jail since Friday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and indecent exposure. 

Rodriguez's death could be the lastest in a string of fentanyl overdoses in San Diego area jails. 

On Sunday, seven inmates at George F. Bailey Detention Facility were hospitalized after they were believed have overdosed on fentanyl, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. All were expected to recover. 

Earlier this month, the possibly drug-related death of a 24-year-old inmate at Vista Detention Facility was under investigation. Ronaldino Estrada of Escondido unconscious and unresponsive in his cell on July 5 and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

In a preliminary postmortem exam, Estrada's system tested positive for fentanyl, according to Seiver. 

Last month, the death of a 41-year-old inmate at George F. Bailey Detention Facility was under investigation as a possible drug-related death. Jerry Aleman, 41, was found unresponsive at the Otay Mesa jail on June 9. 

Deputies and medical staffers tried in vain to revive Aleman before being relieved by paramedics, who took over the lifesaving efforts and then pronounced him dead at the scene.

During a postmortem exam, a preliminary drug screening detected fentanyl in Aleman's system, Seiver said at the time of that case. 

Back in May, eight inmates were treated for fentanyl overdoses at George F. Bailey Detention Center, the Associated Press reported. All were taken to hospitals and later returned to the jail.