AZ: Phoenix kids found unconscious in man’s car after he used fentanyl, police say

A Phoenix man faces child abuse and drug charges after police say he exposed two young children to fentanyl while using the drug himself. Officers arrested Matthew Duane Cruz, 32, on Tuesday after he was found in the car with the unconscious kids.

Police say they received a call about a running car with two passed-out people inside in the area of Interstate 17 and Peoria Avenue. Officers found Cruz in the driver’s seat and a woman in the passenger seat “appearing as if they had just woken up,” according to public court documents.

The probable cause for arrest statement for Cruz says the woman told officers she had been “smoking drugs” in the car. Cruz later stated he had also been using fentanyl, police wrote.

Officers found a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old unconscious in the backseat, along with a small dog. Police said the officers tried to wake the children, but they did not respond. Paramedics took the kids to the hospital to be treated for exposure to fentanyl smoke. Their conditions were not immediately available and their relationship to Cruz and the woman is unclear.

Authorities discovered Cruz had outstanding felony warrants for his arrest, but the alleged crimes were not noted in his court documents. Officers also said drugs and drug paraphernalia were “in plain view” in the car’s front seat where Cruz had been sitting. Police said officers also found an unlabeled pill container with “a large quantity of blue circular pills marked M30.” According to the DEA, pills like that are often counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with the potentially deadly opioid fentanyl. Such fake pills are made specifically to look like real oxycodone pills.

Police arrested Cruz on suspicion of child abuse and various drug-related charges. Because Cruz was on felony release when officers arrested him, he is not eligible for bail.

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