THOUSAND OAKS – In early August, three people were arrested in Ventura County for their suspected roles in the July 17th non-fatal overdose of a person in Thousand Oaks. Following an initial investigation by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit was called to assist.
“This unit uses local, state and federal law enforcement officers to combat the sale of illegal drugs,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “These investigators get to the source and work with the district attorney on pursuing criminal charges.”
Arrested were Kristen Otto, 30, of Oak View, and Robert Cortez, 31, and Mitchell Joyce, 47, both of Ventura. The investigation alleges Otto provided heroin to the overdose victim and purchased heroin from Cortez and Joyce. Each of the suspects was charged with one count of sales of a controlled substance.
The Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit is a task force made up of members from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Thousand Oaks Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Ventura Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Health Quality Investigation Unit of the California Division of Investigation, and the California Department of Health Care Services. The primary mission of the task force is combatting the transfer of legal prescription medication to the illegal market. In addition, the task force works to identify and stop new trends of abuse among the younger population and investigates overdoses due to both prescription medication and illicit drug use.