Oxnard Man Arrested in Ventura County Jail Inmate’s Meth Overdose Death

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An investigation into the drug overdose death of a jail inmate in Ventura led to an Oxnard man’s arrest Wednesday, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

Ricardo Ortega, 31, appears in a photo released by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 16, 2019.
Ricardo Ortega, 31, appears in a photo released by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 16, 2019.

Ricardo Ortega, 31, was taken into custody more than a month after Alexander Beirne of Ojai died from methamphetamine intoxication while at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility on Aug. 30, authorities said.

Investigators believe Ortega brought the meth into the facility and gave it to Beirne, 38, just prior to his overdose.

Beirne was found suffering a “medical emergency” when deputies responded to his cell about 8:30 p.m., authorities said. He was taken to Community Memorial Hospital, nearly 4 miles away, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the drugs directly caused Beirne’s death, authorities said.

Ortega was arrested on suspicion of felony counts including bringing a controlled substance into a jail facility and furnishing a dangerous drug. He was at the same jail for an unrelated case at the time of his arrest Wednesday.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, he is scheduled to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on Oct. 18.

Inmate records show he is being held on $60,000 bail with Oct. 28 listed as his scheduled release date.

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